"OK - forget Prando's inspiring its staff - what about it being loved by them?" asked the chairman of the improbably-sized investment company Prandeamus Asset Management when I visited his office this week.
"Steady on," I said. "Perhaps think about learning to walk before trying to run. We discussed a few ways to shoot for ‘inspiring' last time but corporate lovability is, I would suggest, a whole other ball game."
"How so?" asked the chairman, conveniently. "For one thing because staff appear to be keener on their colleagues than their employer," I replied. "A survey on workplace behaviour by the good, good folk of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), for example, suggested ‘misdemeanours' in the office were considered more acceptable when it was less clear who was being disadvantaged as a result.
"Take the hoary old problem of ‘borrowing' other people's food from a communal fridge - the CISI survey found just 10% of women and 8% of men thought this was OK. In contrast, 49% of people thought it perfectly fine to boost their domestic stationery arrangements by nicking ‘low-value' items, such as pens or post-it notes, from work.
"That last figure does, however, dip considerably when the value of the equipment increases. Up it to a ‘medium-value' item such as a hole-punch or stapler and 20% of people believe it's acceptable while a butch 3% reckon it's fine to leave at the end of the day with ‘high-value' items, such as computer keyboards, mice or monitors, stashed in their rucksack."
"Actually, staff treating the company like Rymans isn't really an issue for Prando's," said the chairman. "That's impressive," I nodded. "Maybe you're closer to being loved than I thought." "I wouldn't bet on it," sighed the chairman. "I'm told a lot of the staff find having CCTV cameras inside as well as outside the office quite intrusive while my innovation of random searches at the end of the working day has gone down even less well."
"People can be so unreasonable," I said. "Don't they realise post-it notes don't grow on tress." "I know you're being sarcastic," grumped the chairman. "But they really don't." "So what about the Prando's communal fridges?" I asked "Again, not an issue," said the chairman. "Although this time I know that has absolutely nothing to do with me."
"How can you be so sure?" I asked. "Call it gut instinct," shrugged the chairman. "About a year ago, something did go missing from one of our fridges - some sunflower seeds …" "Oh heavens, no," I winced. "Presumably they belonged to Adair, the terrier-sized hamster who serves as both your pet and personal bodyguard and of course he would have tracked the guilty party down - how long were they in hospital?"
"Just the fortnight for this one," said the chairman. "Still, as you can imagine, our communal fridges are a bit of no-go zone these days - especially when the air-conditioning is on the blink and there's every chance of finding Adair asleep in one." "Oddly enough, giant cranky rodents were notable by their absence from the obligatory infographic the CISI produced," I said.
"Still, it had a couple more interesting findings - the first on finding money. While 61% of respondents felt it was ‘never acceptable' to keep money found, say, on the floor of a communal bathroom at work, the higher the sum of cash, the more people's scruples kicked in. So 35% would keep £1 or more, 29% would keep £2 or more, 23% would keep £5 or more and only 12% would keep £10 or more.
"Meanwhile, 23% of men and 18% of women felt it was acceptable to divulge confidential information at work about a colleague to that colleague. Apparently this supports previous CISI research, which revealed men (47%) were more likely than women (33%) to think it acceptable to use confidential information belonging to a competitor for the gain of one's own employer."
"Too right they should," said the chairman. "Still, the big lesson I am drawing from all this comes courtesy of Adair - that it is much easier and a good deal more efficient to be feared than loved." " There you go," I said. "Something realistic to shoot for."
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