March 11, 2009

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Cheaters Might Not Prosper, But Teenagers Think They Do Despite lessons they may have learned in kindergarten, 38 percent of teenagers think that you have to break the rules at school to succeed, according to a national poll conducted by Deloitte and Junior Achievement of 750 respondents (50 percent male and 50 percent female). Rather than being the one result that stood out, other figures also pointed to vague beliefs among young adults about what is deemed as appropriate behavior. For example, 27 percent of teenagers indicated that behaving violently is sometimes or often acceptable, and 20 percent noted that they had personally behaved violently toward another person in the past year. These results could be attributed to a lack of role models for ethical behavior in many young peoples’ lives, and is a disturbing indication of their future behavior. Forty-nine percent of those that reported they are ethically prepared believe that lying to parents and guardians is acceptable, and only 54 percent cited their parents as role models. Many consider their own interests before those of peer or authority figures. Teenagers indicated feeling more accountable to themselves (86 percent) than to parents (52 percent), friends (41 percent), or society (33 percent). Individuals who only feel accountable toward themselves will not be a good fit for any company culture in which the greater good is something which should be respected and worked toward. Finally, only 25 percent said that they would be very likely to report unethical behavior in the workplace. Many teenagers seem to be experiencing an attitude of ethical relativism, in which “the ends can justify the means,” and it’s important to instruct them otherwise before it’s too late.
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Dark Side of the Workplace In desperate times, employees resort to desperate measures. And when employees believe their jobs may be in jeopardy, they act in ways unthinkable to most when the economy is healthy. According to a recent survey by Adecco, a whopping 28 percent of respondents would do something dishonest in order to keep their jobs. These behaviors include blaming coworkers for mistakes or blackmailing colleagues. Members of Generation Y are most likely to adopt Lord of the Flies tactics with 41 percent saying they would do something dishonest. Employees probably arrive to work in a dark mood because good news is in short supply. The steady drumbeat of reports about layoffs, failing banks and huge bailouts to financial institutions cannot help to improve productivity either. The broadcast media has all but ceased coverage of any issue other than economic forecasts so escaping grim news is a task in itself. In the same survey 20 percent of currently employed individuals say current economic conditions have a negative affect upon their mental health. This isn’t the first recession this decade, but it is more prolonged and deeper than the downturns that occurred in the 1990s and at the beginning of the current decade. The sense of economic paralysis is moving up the chain as 82 percent of respondents said their employers are not paying more attention to performance even as layoffs reduce payrolls to essential employees. If there is cause for optimism it is the belief that recovery efforts are pending. In the survey, 73 percent of respondents believe the recent stimulus legislation will work.

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