About three-quarters of office workers in the U.S. and U.K. have either witnessed or personally experienced some form of misconduct at some point in their careers, according to a landmark study commissioned by Vault Platform, an ethics and compliance technology provider.
Vault’s first ever “Trust Gap” report polled 2,000 office staff across the U.S. and U.K. to understand experiences of misconduct in the workplace, before putting the results to 500 HR and compliance decision makers to highlight the gap between employees and their employers. The research was independently collected by Norstat, Europe’s largest data collection agency.
The inaugural report highlights an alarming systemic issue, with 84 percent of workers witnessing or personally experiencing more than one form of misconduct in their careers. Worryingly, a deep-rooted nature of systemic misconduct was found, with almost half (48 percent) of respondents in the U.S. (and 37 percent in the U.K.) stating they witness or experience misconduct at least once a month.
“It is hugely concerning to see just how many people witness or fall victim to misconduct in the workplace. Our study shows that these aren’t one-off, isolated incidents but rather signs of an alarming, systemic issue in businesses across the U.K. and U.S.,” said Neta Meidav, founder and CEO of Vault Platform.
A few other key findings:
- Bullying is most common in the U.K., where 26 percent of workers have been on the receiving end, while the same percentage of American workers said they had personally experienced harassment at some point in their career.
- Almost two in three workers between 18 and 34 (64 percent) have experienced misconduct, compared to just 44 percent of those 35 and up.
- With the exception of bullying, all types of workplace misconduct were more common in the U.S. than in the U.K. The biggest gap was in bribery incidents, which 27 percent of American office workers say they have witnessed or experienced, compared to 17 percent of U.K. workers.
Vault’s report also found that the average worker does not have faith that if they were to see something and say something that anything would be done about it. The top concern about reporting incidents was anonymity, with an average of 36 percent of workers in the U.S. and U.K. saying not being able to anonymously report an incident has or would stop them from making an accusation. Internal reputation damage (33 percent) and their allegation not being treated seriously (27 percent) were the second and third biggest concerns.
With the recent congressional testimony of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen and impending enforcement of the EU’s Whistleblower Protection Directive, companies risk cascading damage if they fail to build a speak-up culture: “On both sides of the Atlantic, regulators are introducing bold initiatives to tackle workplace misconduct and employers can’t afford to be left behind,” Meidav said.
Click here to download Vault Platform’s inaugural “Trust Gap” report.