As I mentioned in my previous posts, the ERC report on generational differences in the workplace showed that Millennials are the most at-risk generation due to higher rates of observing misconduct and experiencing retaliation for reporting incidents. These are the environmental factors that affect them, but are there any personal characteristics of this generation that put their organization at risk? As it turns out from the survey data, there is indeed danger lurking due to this generation’s habits.
Millennials are more open and transparent, making them more likely to share information about their work experiences, both positive and negative, with oth¬ers in their social networks. This creates significant reputational risk, which is the number one concern of companies’ boards according to another recent study conducted by EisnerAmper. Across all sectors, and especially for non-profits, today’s Directors are particularly concerned with public perception and customer satisfaction, and they do NOT want their dirty laundry aired in front of the world. In addition, Millennials are also most likely to keep copies of confidential company documents, which if shared outside the company, can potentially get into the hands of competitors.
Millennials are also more flexible with their moral standards, making them more likely to engage in or tolerate behavior that many consider unacceptable. In fact, more than one out of three Millennials are willing to close their eyes to misconduct if they think debatable behavior will save their jobs. These relatively inexperienced workers may feel more nervous about job security in a weak economy, and this sense of desperation may make them more likely to let the ends justify the means. This can be especially dangerous for their organizations since Millennials have also historically been more likely to feel pressure to compromise standards, company policies, or the law.
As I mentioned in a previous post, to engage this generation, the ethics and compliance message needs to be emphasized from their own immediate supervisors and managers – “the message in the middle.” This “message” needs to convey to young workers that their organization values good behavior OVER achievement of short-term results through questionable actions. An additional way to do this is by baking ethics into performance reviews and promotion considerations. Further, organizations need to reinforce their policies on social media and information security through delivering engaging and interactive ethics training; an uninformed worker can be an organization’s greatest risk to reputation and competitive edge.
On-Demand Webinar | Driving a Culture of Compliance By Engaging Employees
Borrowing from cutting-edge research on consumer engagement, as well as current industry best practices, this complimentary webinar explores practical ways to get employees actively participating in ethics and compliance efforts.