Research Highlights - April 2018

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British researchers have identified four types of employees who can become a threat to their companies — and explained the reasons why their workplace behaviour declines.

Researchers from the Universities of Glasgow and Coventry found that organizational change within a company can act as an important trigger prompting the behavior of even loyal and longstanding employees to worsen. The implications range from time-wasting in the office to giving away confidential business information to competitors.

The researchers identified four types of employees who carry out this ‘counterproductive work” as well as the the factors which cause it; the four types are omitters, slippers, retaliators and serial transgressors.   The research, involved

  • Interviewing managers and employees.
  • Reviewing HR and security paperwork relating to insider threat cases.
  • Carrying out anonymous surveys within the organization.

The project — funded by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (or CREST) – was used to create a series of resources to help employers manage organizational change and to try to prevent this behavior by staff.

This work revealed that the negative features of organizational change — such as an unpredictable working environment, inadequate communication, inconsistent leadership and unfair changes and processes — can cause distrust among employees and their managers.  This distrust reduces people’s psychological attachment to their companies and makes them more likely to carry out behavior that makes them into “insider threats.”

The four types of employees who could potentially become an insider threat to their companies are:

  • Omitters — These are people who carry out this behavior through an incapacity to effectively self-regulate their actions. They unintentionally breach rules and need help from colleagues to reduce the insider threat risk they present.
  • Slippers — These are employees who occasionally undertake single acts of counterproductive work behavior, such as taking home ‘on-site only documents’ or being rude to others.
  • Retaliators — These are employees who deliberately undertake small acts designed to harm the organization. Over time,...

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