Category Archives: Theory/Research

Vividness of Future Self Predicts Delinquency

As a follow-up to the study I posted about last week, there was an interesting study recently published called “Vividness of the Future Self Predicts Delinquency.”  As noted last week, there is a great deal of research that shows that younger persons are more likely to engage in risky and unethical behavior than older persons.  There are many reasons for this but one of the strongest individual-level correlates of delinquency is the failure to think through the delayed consequences of behavior as opposed to “living in the moment.”

This study looked at two options for influencing participants towards more ethical behavior.  In one study, the participants were instructed to write a letter to their “future self.”  In the second study, the participants interacted with a realistic digital version of their future, aged-progressed selves in a virtual environment.  In both studies, participants were less likely to engage in unethical behavior or make delinquent choices.  In fact, in the second study, participants who gazed at their 40-year-old selves in virtual mirrors were 74% less likely to cheat for extra cash on a subsequent trivia test.

What implications might this have for you and your organization when it comes to how you induct and train your employees, especially your younger employees?

Millenials Suffer Ethical Lapses at Work

It seems in recent years that it has become almost politically incorrect to make negative observations about younger generations.  In fact, there are many stereotypes that are made about all generations that are not based in the truth but have become accepted “wisdom” in the business world.  As a result, I watch for data-based reports that might get to real issues.

In June, the Ethics Resource Center (ERC) published a new study that conclude that America’s youngest workers are almost twice as likely as Baby Boomers to buy personal items with a company credit card, almost three times as likely to blog or tweet something negative about their company, and about two and a half as likely to take company software home for their own use.  

But, before anyone gets too excited about these conclusions, I find that many of the questions were worded in a manner that allowed for multiple interpretations and that the gap between Millenials and their older colleagues was not very significant on many questions.

For instance, the report concludes that the youngest employees were more likely than their older colleagues to feel pressured by others to break company rules.  But when you look at the numbers, we are talking about 15 percent of Millenials reporting pressure to compromise standards compared to 13 percent of Generation Xers and 9 percent of Baby Boomers.  Not exactly a significant number in either absolute or relative terms.

The other aspect that was not addressed in the report was whether this particular cohort of young workers – the Millenials – were particularly challenged in regards to ethics or whether this is simply a recurring issue where younger workers are almost always prone to workplace deviance – a fact that is pretty well established in research literature.

So, while I am always interested in seeing research in our areas of interest, I don’t find this report to be particularly useful.  If you’d like to read more about it, click here.



7 Reasons for Security Awareness Failure

There is a good column currently on CSO Magazine’s online site that is titled “7 Reasons for Security Awareness Failure.”  While it is geared to corporate security environments, it resonates with the retail loss prevention world, as well.  The seven reasons outlined are:

  1. Not understanding what security awareness really is
  2. Reliance on checking the box
  3. Failing to acknowledge that awareness is a unique discipline
  4. Lack of engaging and appropriate materials
  5. Not collecting metrics
  6. Unreasonable expectations
  7. Relying upon a single training exercise

As a provider of training and awareness programs for retail, we see many of these problems on a weekly basis.  I’d suggest you review the article and let us know if you would like to discuss how you can make your awareness investments more successful.


Five Myths About Generation Y

There is a great article over at strategy+business (free registration required) that highlights five myths that continue to be perpetuated about generational differences, especially when it comes to the “Millenials” or “Generation Y.”  The cited research specifically addresses five myths:

  1. Millenials don’t want to be told what to do
  2. Millenials lack organizational loyalty
  3. Millenials aren’t interested in their work
  4. Millenials are motivated by perks and high pay
  5. Millenials want more work-life balance

For several years now, research study after research study have shown that generational differences have largely been over-hyped by training companies, consultants, and a whole cottage industry of companies that seek to make money on this premise.  Most studies find that employees, across generations, are seeking the same things in the workplace.  Of course there are differences in styles between older workers and younger workers, but that does not infer different motivations.

In fact, most differences in attitudes are more closely associated with age and tenure in the workforce themselves.  Yes, younger, lower paid employees are more concerned about compensation as they don’t make much money in the first place.  Yes, younger employees tend to change jobs more quickly – just like most of us did in our early 20’s.

I’m not suggesting that organizations don’t explore how they communicate to different demographic segments of their employee populations whether that be along the lines of age, culture, gender, etc.  However, it is time to question trite and oversimplified premises advanced by those who to seek to profit from them.

Organizational Alignment for Loss Prevention

At the recent FMI Asset Protection conference in New Orleans, I had a chance to address the group on the issue of how Loss Prevention groups align themselves, or don’t, with the overall organization and senior management.  I’ve written on this topic on several other occassions and believe that it continues to be a critical issue for all retailers.

In preparation for this event, I was able to work with Rhett Asher at FMI to conduct an exclusive survey on this topic.  We asked both senior Loss Prevention executives and CEO’s/Senior Management to give their views on how well their Loss Prevention group integrates into the overall mission of the company and where focus and improvement needs to occur.  We were pleased to get good participation from both groups and the findings contained both good news and also some indicators of opportunity for us.

In general, senior executives believed that the Loss Prevention was critical to their company’s success and that they were doing a pretty good job, although not as good of a job as Loss Prevention executives rated their own group.  However, senior executives tended to have a fairly narrow view of critical focus areas which might indicate some failure on our part to communicate the broad range of value and contribution we make to ther organization.

In upcoming months, look for an article in LP Magazine where we will give the detailed results of the survey and some ideas on how to improve organizational alignment with the enterprise.