Employees believe a wide range of unethical activities – ranging from personal phone calls to fiddling expenses – are permissible in the workplace.
A survey of 759 full-time workers, commissioned by the Institute of Business Ethics, found the majority have no problems with making personal phone calls at work (59%), while 49% believe it is acceptable to steal pens and pencils, and 37% think it is OK to post personal mail.
More than a third of the managers questioned (38%) believe petty fiddling and pilfering is inevitable, and 45% said that cracking down on it would harm the business.
Some managers even had little objection to a range of activities that bordered on being criminal. Ten per cent believed that fiddling the books without stealing was acceptable, and some said that they would definitely (3%) or possibly (5%) give a clean reference to an employee who had been involved in fraud.
However, the findings also showed that 25% of those who had been aware of misconduct, and 50% of those who had witnessed it themselves, had blown the whistle.
Men appear to be less concerned about ethics than women and those under 35 are generally less concerned than older workers. But social class and geography were found to make little difference.
www.ibe.org.uk, 020 7798 6040