UPFRONT Uplifting – but unethical

Pocketing pens or other office goodies from the stationery department for personal use may not be considered ethical but one in four employees do it anyway.
A survey on ethical behaviour in the workplace found that 25 percent of New Zealand workers admit to taking office supplies for personal use even though less than half of them approve of it. When recruitment company Kelly Services asked nearly 1000 workers about ethical work practice, it found many of them prepared to bend their own rules by taking office supplies, using office software at home and 53 percent of them logging into their work internet for personal use.
A further 2.8 percent admitted to accessing personal information on colleagues’ computers.
But only 32 percent of those surveyed thought personal use of their employer’s internet was acceptable and only seven percent thought it was OK to uplift office supplies. bit of ethical confusion there, suggests Kelly Services national contracts manager Wendy Hewson.
This highlights the difficulty many workers have in meeting their own standards of ethical behaviour and points, perhaps, to competing work/life pressures.
“A worker who uses office software or stationery in order to finish the day’s work at home may feel justified in what they are doing,” says Hewson. Employers should, she says, set out ground rules for such circumstances and communicate organisational values which make it clear what is acceptable and what is not.

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