Many, if not all companies want their employees to be “pro-organization.” We want our employees to look out for the success of the company (and avoid things that cause failure.) Entire industries have sprung up to drive engagement, cultural fit, and to help create an almost zealous focus on success of the organization. Balancing work-life issues, creating better working environments where we can bring our kids and have them a few floors away in company-sponsored day-care are all ways in which companies strive to get employees to “feel” for the company in a positive way. These efforts drive retention, recruitment, positive word of mouth – and ultimately – success for the company.
And they also can increase unethical behavior.
Unethical Pro-Organizational Behavior (UPB)
UPB is something I’d not thought of before but I think it will be a bigger issue in many companies as they continue their quest for engaged employees. The definition of UPB is:
unethical behavior that benefits the corporation.
Think of cooking numbers to boost analyst projections and stock values or withholding information about the hazards of a pharmaceutical product.
The website Futurity.org highlighted a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology that examined the relationship between UPB and an employee’s degree of organizational identification. The question they wanted to answer was – are employees more likely to engage in UPB if they identify more with the organization?
And the answer is yes – if there is a something called positive reciprocity in the mix.
Meaning, if I, as an employee identify strongly with an organization (think zappos - #hrhappyhour folks must take a drink now) AND if something has been done for them (think daycare, sabbaticals, awards and recognition) they are more likely to behave unethically to benefit the organization.
Engagement And The Force
Like any engagement strategy (heck, any strategy) – there is a good side and a dark side (cue Darth Vader music) – and the more a company does for their employees in order to drive engagement – the more I’d be worried about a few rogue managers, wittingly or unwittingly, creating situations where an employee feels compelled to do something they wouldn’t normally do. And, like any behavior – it can start small - fudging an invoice to a client, spinning a product flaw as a benefit - and ultimately become a habit.
Take this little word of advice - the more you do to drive engagement in your organization – the more I would train my managers on this little bit of information.
Something to think about on Friday the 13th.
I know, just when you thought you had this engagement thing all figured out.