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Have you ever taken things from the office to your home? Have you stolen some pens and paper from your employer for your children’s art and craft class? And have you never used the office printer to print the ballots of a concert?
In a recent anonymous survey by the Papermate company, as part of the launch of a new ballpoint pen, 100% of workers acknowledged having stolen at least one pen from work.
Other academic research reported that up to 75% of employees admitted to stealing supplies from the office during the last year.
The damage in economic terms caused by these “petty thefts” has been valued at hundreds of billions of dollars a year, and it is estimated that they are the reason why the inventory of an organization is reduced each year by 35%.
They also represent 1.4% of total profits.
So, if this behavior is so harmful to the economy, why do we do it?
When one starts a new job, the employer tends to make a series of promises about the position that are not necessarily part of your written contract.
Imagine that your company has promised you flexible working hours and an environment where responsibility is shared among colleagues.
By making these promises, your employer has created a series of expectations.
These expectations form the basis of what we call a “psychological contract”.
As long as your employer maintains its part of the agreement, you will be a happy, loyal and committed employee.
The only flaw in this situation is that it rarely exists.
We know that over time, the perceptions of employees and employers about what was promised begins to distance themselves.
In reality, many people perceive that their employer is moving away from their initial promises.
In fact, 55% of employees say that their bosses broke their promises in the first two years of employment, and 65% said they experienced this situation in the last year.
Recently, researchers discovered that employees experience the breaking of a promise once a week and even daily.
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “If they break their promises so often, they should at least apologize for it, should not they?”
Unfortunately, recent studies indicate that employers rarely notice that they have done something wrong.
As a result, they only try to justify or rectify their actions between 6% and 37% of the time.
It seems that employers often break promises, but do not admit their mistakes or try to find a solution.
The pleasure of revenge
As these promises are seen as such an important part of the labor agreement, when the boss breaks them, often the employee ends up feeling free to take what “by right belongs to him” .
Employees who feel that employers have not complied tend to experience a series of intense negative emotions such as anger, anger, frustration and outrage, which in turn generate a deep desire to dominate and take revenge on the employer.
Moreover, some research found that this effect was deeper among those who were very good at their job and therefore expected to be treated fairly.
This means that the best employees of an organization are the most likely to be “vengeful” against unfulfilled promises.
Some studies also showed that some people seem to enjoy revenge, especially when they have a high position and when they feel more dominant.
If we combine the desire for revenge with the pleasure it provides, we come to a positive reinforcement of this behavior.
As a result, employees are more likely to be vengeful in the future when faced with an unfulfilled promise, because they experience mostly positive consequences as a result of their negative behavior.
Does this mean that I am defending this vengeful behavior that occurs when a boss breaks one or more of the promises he made?
Of course not. Let me explain it to you with the acronym in English BRAIN ( Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Information and Nothing , in Spanish, Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Information and Nothing).
First, when you experience a breach of a promise, stop for a moment and think about the potential benefits of being vengeful in light of the risks associated with stealing from your employer.
While it’s nice to have avenged your employer for not having complied, we know that the emotion that gives us that action lasts a short time.
In fact, it is very likely that you feel guilty after what you have done.
You also run the risk of being discovered and potentially losing your job.
So ask yourself: “Is this really worth it?” Better, think of alternatives.
Change of dynamics
As I mentioned earlier, your boss usually is not aware of the fact that he has broken a promise.
However, there are studies that suggest that you can change this dynamic if you talk to them in a respectful way.
Tell your employer what the promise was that it did not fulfill, how that affects you and, ultimately, impairs the performance of the organization.
Employers usually respond well to this type of dialogue – at least 52% to 66% of cases – and will try to correct things, either by apologizing or offering compensation.
However, before doing anything, make sure you have all the necessary information. And ask yourself questions like:
- Is this an unfulfilled promise that escapes my boss’s control?
- Do my colleagues feel similar?
- Is it the first time something like this happens to me?
The more information you have, the better you can judge what to do in your case: whether to let it pass, talk or ask for compensation.
Recent studies indicate that you are more likely to generate a reaction, such as receiving an apology or resolving your situation, when you can show that your employer deliberately broke his promise.
By doing so, you can show that they are in control of the situation and can correct their mistakes.
Moreover, it is more possible that you receive an apology or a solution if you can involve other people who experienced a similar situation.
Finally, and before you do anything, ask yourself: “Is it really worth it?”
Sometimes, doing nothing can be the best against an unfulfilled promise.
I’m not saying do not say anything when you see or suffer an injustice at work, I’m just saying that you choose your battles.
By deciding which aspects of your labor agreement are not negotiable for you and what aspects are not fundamental, you can protect yourself from having to deal with an unfulfilled promise.
My suggestion is that you evaluate the benefits, risks, alternatives, and reports you think about the possibility of not doing anything when you see yourself in a similar situation.