Dishonesty and anti-social behaviour in the workplace have become "rife", according to a new report. But loyalty is a two way street: employers who show their staff little loyalty can expect less in return.
A report from the Social Affairs Unit says that while theft, fraud, vandalism and cheating are all on the rise, building commitment starts with recruiting the right people and leading by example, not with CCTV cameras.
According to authors John Taylor and Professor Adrian Furnham, employee theft is responsible for between 30 and 40 per cent of all business failures, while in the retail sector, it is estimated that theft by staff accounts for half of all "shrinkages".
But they argue that the type of management paranoia that leads to the installation of CCTV to monitor staff only compounds the problem by encouraging disloyalty.
The way ahead is not for employers to trust their staff less and less, but to listen to the views of staff and set an example by behaving in an exemplary way.
"Bosses should be consistent and do what they expect their employees to do. And what ever it is they do, they should do it with enthusiasm," the report says.
Minimising dishonesty starts with recruiting the right people. Yet while qualifications and assessment centres provide good evidence about what people are good at, they rarely uncover much about the dark side of people.
Employers should take care to avoid individuals who are vain, greedy or over-ambitious, the report warns.
Taylor and Furnham also remind employers that challenge is the real incentive for bright people. While money has its attractions, what really turns on the modern graduate is challenge and responsibility. They need to be trained and developed, but then unleash their power to keep them.
Good exit policies also help ensure higher retention. Anyone who leaves an organisation for whatever reason should leave with dignity, the report argues.
This reduces the risk that the individual will feel resentment towards their former employer and demonstrates to others that they will be treated similarly when their time comes.
On the flip side, employers who get it wrong – often by not listening to their staff - risk causing resentment and inviting revenge. Allowing resentment to fester leads at best to resignation and at worst to theft, sabotage or whistle-blowing.
And controversially, Taylor and Furnham also warn against out-sourcing recruitment. "Candidates should have all the information they need to choose the right employer for them. It is hard to do this if they only see the recruitment consultant," they claim.
"If a consultancy is used let the candidates have contact with the employers and the people they will be working with."