Employees will bend the rules on working hours or salary if it means they can keep their job. But they'll break them by stealing valuable company data if they are laid off. Some employees have already downloaded company information on the off chance of needing it as a negotiating tool in their next role, according to a depressing survey, "The Global Recession and its Effect on Work Ethics", by IT security firm CyberArk.
Fifty six per cent of the 600 employees polled in Amsterdam, London and New York were worried about losing their jobs, and one-third confirmed they'd be willing to work 80-hours a week, while 25 per cent would take a pay cut, if it meant keeping their jobs.
The most willing to put in the overtime were Americans -- only 37 per cent of Dutch and 27 per cent of British employees approved of longer hours, while 50 per cent of Americans considered doubling their hours an acceptable option.
Americans, in fact, were altogether more keen on staying employed -- 15 per cent admitted they might consider blackmailing the boss if it helped their cause, and 26 per cent would buy the next round of drinks for their peers for year. The Dutch proved the most prepared, though -- 71 per cent have already downloaded company data just in case they find themselves in need of a bargaining chip.
Even rumours of redundancy brought out the unethical in employees. At the first whisper of layoffs, 46 per cent said they'd try to access the corporate network to get a list of names -- and some would consider bribing a mate in IT if they couldn't gain access to the list of layoff candidates themselves.
Overall, though, a whopping 71 per cent claimed they wouldn't think twice about walking out with a memory stick full of company secrets if they faced the chop. Customer contact data, product information, plans, proposals, and password access were all deemed fair game, with memory sticks the most subtle pilferer's tool. Weirdly, seven per cent of Britons opted to memorise sensitive data.
There is some good news for employers: stealing company data's becoming tougher, according to the poll -- 71 per cent in the UK and 46 per cent in Holland claimed it had become harder to lift sensitive data. In the US, just 38 per cent complained of this problem.
Says Adam Bosnian of Cyber-Ark: "In these dark days, everyone is jittery especially with lay offs at the top of most corporate agendas -- the instinct is to look out for number one."