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Workplace Engagement InsightsLatest Employee Engagement NewsLeadershipAre We in the Middle of an Epidemic of Lost Integrity?

Are We in the Middle of an Epidemic of Lost Integrity?


Are we becoming a world of lost connections? And through that process, are we suffering a significant loss of integrity? 

Open up the Toronto Star and you will find a story about Health Canada and Canadian pharmaceutical companies hiding crucial evidence of tainted drugs. This was not discovered by our system of protection (because they appear to be complicit in the masking of transparent data) but rather by reporters bent on finding the truth. 

Once that sinks in, go to the sports section and read the latest in the saga of Ray Rice. Did the NFL know about the video of him knocking his then-fiancé unconscious? Did they see it and cover it up for the benefit of the NFL?

What Is Going on Here?

We as a species are hardwired to be part of a tribe. We form relationships at a small family scale (usually about 5 people) and then layer up to about 15 close friends, 50 strong connections, and a typical small community of 150 people. 

In this type of society (the dominant form of social structure until the 1900s), the community itself was largely self-policing and would step in to help those in need. With the advent of major cities and the development of modern technologies (that seem to connect us yet distance us), we have become an increasingly uncaring community of people who are simply out for themselves.

This behavior has surely had an impact on the behavior of community leaders and corporate leaders. How else do we explain the behaviors we witness today?

A 2012 article in the Social Evolution Forum“R.I.M. Dunbar: Networking Past and Present”, cites research papers by Putnam and Wilkinson & Pickett, who claim these changes have caused a “decline in our levels of social engagement with the wider community and a corresponding decline in social satisfaction.” 

In other words, we live in an increasingly disengaged, dissatisfied, and self-obsessed world.

Lost connections

If we do not take this knowledge and work to develop a higher level of connection in corporations (employee engagement), then we will simply see the population statistics on social engagement become the normal curve for companies. 

Companies will find that their employees are out for themselves and have no sense of the corporate values. Mistakes will be covered up instead of corrected. Important corners will be cut in the name of hitting sales targets.

By focusing on employee engagement, businesses can form a connected tribe. As I’ve mentioned, tribes include self-policing mechanisms – which in a company translates to the development of team leadership and an expectation that tribe-members (employees) will live by a strong set of core values.

But the leaders must be at the forefront of this change. The leaders must be role models for the rest of the tribe.

The reporters who uncovered the truth about Health Canada and the Canadian pharmaceutical companies had to go to the US Food and Drug Administration to obtain the data. This points to a serious problem of values in these Canadian organizations. A problem that starts with the leadership, who aren’t creating a company culture with positive values.

It’s too late to undo what has already been done. However, there is still a way for the leaders of these organizations to set an example and begin to reform their deficient corporate cultures.

Will any of these CEOs be willing to step up the way Michael McCain did in 2008 when they discovered listeria in meats produced by his company? The leadership needs to come from the top and send a powerful message to all employees. 

Companies do not have to sacrifice productivity or profitability for integrity and strong corporate values. It’s a matter of creating meaning in the workplace and building a tribal network of support that values each employee. That’s the kind of company where people want to not only work hard, but do it with integrity.

Do you have stories of unethical self-serving behaviors in companies you have worked for or done business with? Am I off base and these are just a few isolated incidents?

>> I will help your business create a strong culture through employee engagement. Contact me now!

Need ideas to help you better connect with your employees? Check out my free cheat sheet for “Improving Employee Engagement in Just 10 Minutes”.

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Written by Dwight Lacey

Dwight Lacey

Dwight is the President at Workplace Engagement Insights. He leads Workplace Engagement Insights with a clear understanding of the latest employee engagement research, survey best practices, and leadership styles that create successful businesses.

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