Employees Regularly Observe Illegal Activities

No, these employees aren’t working on the bad side of town looking out the window at a criminal on the street. Corporate workers observe widespread illegal and unethical conduct in the workplace on almost a daily basis. This is just one of the findings of a survey recently conducted by KPMG LLP.

The Big 5 firm surveyed more than 2,300 workers for the survey. More than three-fourths of respondents indicated that they observed company or law violations in the previous 12 months. What’s even more troubling is that nearly half of those said that their company "would significantly lose public trust" if the infraction they had observed found its way into the news media.”

Despite ethics programs and management training on basic human resource issues, workplace misconduct is still alive and well. The most common infractions cited by the respondents were sexual harassment, employment discrimination and conflict of interest, while other offenses mentioned included deceptive sales practices, unsafe working conditions and environmental breaches.

As with other trends in corporate America, it appears that philosophies filter down from the top. The thinking seems to be, “if management doesn’t care, why should I?” Employees working for companies where management was perceived to authorize improper conduct believed that customers would probably not endorse the firm to potential customers. And 79 percent of those employees said they would not recommend the company to recruits. By contrast, in a company where management is trusted, employees indicated that they would play a more active role in customer retention and employee recruitment.

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