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Your Money
Is your boss a crook?
Perhaps not, but a survey finds small moral lapses are prevalent even if the big ones are not.
January 16, 2004: 11:53 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Forget shady financial deals and legal shenanigans that grab headlines. It's moral lapses like hypocrisy, favoritism and disrespect for employees that pose the biggest ethical problems at the workplace.

Bad boss, bad
Perceived moral failings of company CEOs and top managers, according to a survey of employees.
Shortcoming Percent agree 
Hypocrisy 62 percent 
Favoritism 60 pecent 
Dishonesty 53 percent 
Promise-breaking 52 percent 
Disrespectful 37 percent 
 Source:  Wilson Wyatt

That's the finding by Watson Wyatt's latest Employee Attitudes and Opinions Survey released this week.

"While most employees do not believe there are concrete ethical breaches in the workplace, some clearly feel compromised by day-to-day hypocrisy and broken promises," says Ilene Gochman, national practice leader at Watson Wyatt. "The survey holds mixed news for employers."


The good news is that employees generally believe their immediate supervisors and colleagues are ethical. Specifically, 72 percent of workers strongly agree that their boss behaves with honesty and integrity versus 11 percent who strongly disagree. (The remaining 17 percent have mixed feelings about the matter.)

On the other hand, workers are far more likely to question the ethics of management. Just 56 percent agree that top brass at their companies acts in an honest manner while 16 percent strongly disagree with that sentiment.

Those that do say they work with dishonest people say its those everyday moral lapses like hypocrisy that pose the biggest problems. For example, of those who say their boss isn't honest, 67 percent say it's because of hypocrisy. Only 3 percent say they have a boss who's guilty of dishonest financial deals.

Coworkers, you too
Perceived moral failings of business colleagues, according to a survey of workers.
Shortcoming Percent agree 
Favoritism 49 percent 
Hypocrisy 46 percent 
Disrespectfulness 43 percent 
Knowing violation of rules 37 percent 
Dishonesty 25 percent 
 Source:  Wilson Wyatt

Distrust in top brass may spell potential trouble for companies if they want to retain a loyal workforce.

"One of biggest drivers in commitment to the company is trust in senior management," says Gochman. "You may like your boss but you're whole career is not working for one boss."

Thirty percent of employees would leave their companies if they could, according to the survey.

New York

In recent months experts have been warning employers that growing employee discontent may prove to be a big problem in the coming year.

According to Society for Human Resource Mangers, more than eight out of 10 employees planed to look for work when the economy recovers. Other studies have found high levels of employee stress. For more, see: I Quit!  Top of page

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