Recession strains employee loyalty and ethics

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on December 18, 2008

Employees will apparently do almost anything to keep their jobs in today's trouble economy, but at what cost to the employer? A survey by IT security firm Cyber-Ark Software found that while employees are willing to make sacrifices for continued employment, they are not above conspiring to take valuable corporate information with them if they're asked to leave.

The survey found that more than one-third of office workers would be willing to work 80 hours a week, with 25% being prepared to take a salary cut if it meant they could keep their job. However, any workers also admitted to conspiring behind their bosses' backs to copy competitive information to take with them if they should lose their job.

Some 56% of workers surveyed admitted to being worried about losing their job, and more than half had already downloaded competitive corporate data and planned to use that information as a negotiating tool to secure their next post. In Holland, 71% of workers confessed to having already downloaded data, compared to 58% in the US and only 40% in the UK.

When confronted with the prospect of being fired tomorrow, 71% of the workers surveyed said that they would definitely take company data with them to their next employer. Top of the list of desirable information is the customer or contact database, followed by plans and proposals, product information, and even access codes and passwords proving to be popular choices. HR records and legal documents were the least popular choice of data that employees wanted to take with them.

When posed with the idea of rumours about impending lay-offs, 46% of the workers interviewed said they would try to obtain the "lay off list" by using their access rights to snoop around the company network. But if this approach failed, many said they would consider bribing a friend in the IT department to do it for them.

Fortunately, many companies now seem to be aware of the danger that data leakage poses, as workers around the world believe it is becoming harder to take sensitive information out of the company, with 71% in the UK acknowledging that it is difficult, compared to 46% in Holland. However, in the US, a worryingly low proportion (38%) said that they had found it difficult to steal corporate data.

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