Theft in the workplace commonly involves a taking of property, time or information which rightfully belongs to the employer; however, an expanded view might include the taking of creative energies or productivity from talented employees or the destruction of their engagement or intentional sabotage of their work product. Theft of employee abilities and competencies by inadequate managers has a direct causal impact on productivity and profits.

Waste, fraud and abuse of the employer’s property might include each employee’s engagement in work activity in fulfilment of the mission and goals of the enterprise. A recent Gallup poll revealed that 72 percent of US workers are disengaged and simply come to work because they have to. In the US it is estimated about $370bn are lost due to poor productivity, waste, duplication of efforts, lack of inventiveness or other insidious means caused by disengagement. The worldwide results among employed residents aged 18 and older in 142 countries is 24 percent actively disengaged, 63 percent not engaged, and 13 percent engaged.

If this enormous amount of time, effort, energy, creativity, loyalty and interest, all essential elements for success, are missing or reduced, can this loss or diminished individual investment be considered theft from the employer? Businesses must adapt and change to global economic conditions while maintaining high-productivity workplaces. Effective leadership is an important element to employee engagement and satisfaction as is a culture of compassion.

If the culture of the workplace encourages or, at the least, does not address the basic emotional need of feelings of belonging, the theft of engagement may fall upon the manager whose responsibility it is to provide guidance, feedback and recognition. An enlightened workplace recognises its people, communicates in a respectful and compassionate fashion, and encourages trust. Stressed, overworked or unhappy people cannot be creative or productive. Knowledge workers need to know their role and purpose in contribution to the success of the organisation.

Oct-Dec 2015 issue

International Center for Compassionate Organizations (ICCO)