There is a direct causal connection between better employee engagement and improved ethical decision-making by those employees.

Now it’s official. The more that employees are engaged with their work and intent on staying with their current employer, the more ethical they will be in their decision-making. So if you want to ensure staff keep to the straight and narrow path, first make sure they’re in the right job.

Actually it’s been official for some time. At least since January 2010 when the Journal of Business Ethics reported a major study involving 92 matched manager-employee pairs in a financial services firm. The study asked 92 employees to complete survey instruments assessing their job satisfaction and intent to stay. Then the employee’s manager rated them on their ethical/unethical performance.
The study found that a highly satisfied employee will be significantly more likely to make ethical business decisions than one who is disengaged.

When you add to this the productivity gains that are proven to accompany fully engaged employees the conclusions are obvious. Put away the threats of retribution for bad behavior. Instead, focus on ensuring that employees are doing jobs which are aligned with their natural strengths and talents, not just their experience.

Then they’ll be happy.

Then they’ll be better engaged and more productive.

Then they’ll make better ethical decisions on the job.

Then the CEO will sleep better at night.

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