Our ethics and political leanings are a part of who we are, and a new survey reveals that oftentimes those beliefs spill over into the workplace.
Aflac (AFL) conducted a study, which measured how often people behave unethically at work. The insurance company also took a look at how outspoken companies should be when it comes to political issues.
The most startling revelation (or maybe not so surprising) is that millennials feel more pressure to act unethically. In fact, 25% of all consumers revealed that they were asked to do something unethical by their employer. From this group, 47% of millennials admit to actually complying with the requests. This compares to just 36% of all other generations.
“Millennials are very ethics-conscious, but as they climb the corporate ladder, they feel pressured to not disappoint in a very competitive arena,” said Catherine Hernandez-Blades, VP of Corporate Communications at Aflac. “This was a very interesting finding, given that millennials are also the group that is most likely to conduct business or invest in companies known for social responsibility.”
In other words, millennials are younger, and less secure, leading them to possibly make questionable decisions.
Overall, 19% of consumers say that they have behaved unethically at work, whether they were asked to by their employer or not.
Working for banks, mortgage companies and other financial institutions, loan officers determine whether to approve loans for individuals and businesses. They collect financial information to assess whether applicants need money and how easily they will be able to repay those funds. Officers often specialize in the fields of consumer (given to individuals), commercial (given to businesses) and mortgage (given to purchase property) loans. They need to have strong instincts for sales and customer service. Some officers travel outside of office settings to meet with clients off site.
Sticklers for detail and deadlines, accountants prepare and assess financial documents. Most individuals come into contact with these professionals in the early spring around tax time, but accountants work year-round for companies and other institutions, keeping records up to date and ensuring compliance with reporting requirements. In addition to completing college coursework, many accountants take licensing exams to become certified. Depending on their specialties, they may have busy seasons, such as the end of a company's fiscal year. Organization and timeliness are essential to success in this field.
People who love to solve puzzles and devise more efficient ways of working may thrive as operations research analysts. They use math and analytical tools to help businesses streamline their work and devise solutions to challenges. They may also conduct interviews with workers to gain a fuller understanding of how systems work. Operations research analysts often labor in teams with people who have expertise complementary to their own, so the ability to collaborate is important to the job. They also must be confident in their ability to make solid recommendations, since most business problems have many possible solutions.
If the health care world interests you, but the prospect of completing medical school seems daunting, a career in radiation therapy could be a good option. These therapists work closely with patients to provide treatment for cancer. Using CT scans and X-rays and working closely with doctors and nurses, they discern where to target radiation and administer doses. They're responsible for keeping detailed records of their work. Being able to communicate compassionately with patients and their families is important to this role, which may appeal to millennials who want to aid others.
For the nature-lover with a scientific bent, environmental engineering could be an attractive career path. People who work in this field apply biology, chemistry and engineering principles to design and build better systems for recycling, water use and pollution control. Their work affects not only the natural world but also public health and government policies. Although many environmental engineers spend time in office settings, they may have opportunities to travel to and work from outdoor locations where projects are underway. Beyond scientific training, environmental engineers should have strong communication skills.
Love to see physical results from your hard work? You may appreciate the world of mechanical engineers, who dream up, construct and assess tools and machines. They develop and use cutting-edge technology at manufacturing companies and engineering firms, working on turbines, batteries, generators and engines. Mechanical engineers should be good at math, working in teams and applying creative thinking to solving real-world problems. Although they help produce tangible products, they use computer systems frequently in their work, so technical skills are important, too.
Technology jobs don't have to be solitary. Computer systems analysts combine digital knowledge with customer service, working closely with business professionals to learn the ins and outs of their company needs and the technological possibilities that can address them. After selecting appropriate solutions, computer systems analysts help install digital systems and train other workers how to use them. These information science specialists often develop expertise in topics like health care or finance and may work directly for corporations or as consultants.
The games on your smartphone, the computer programs essential to your job, the systems you use to edit photos and stream movies: These are all examples of software, technology that has built much of the contemporary world. Software developers are the architects of that technology, which makes their work exciting to some millennials. The profession requires computer coding skills, creativity and a tolerance for trial and error. The work can sometimes be done remotely, making it a good fit for a young worker hoping to establish a good work-life balance.
In antiquity, the Greeks had oracles and the Chinese had fortunetellers. Today, businesses rely on actuaries to discern probable outcomes. Actuaries don't actually predict the future, of course, but they use statistics and financial theory to assess the likelihood that specific events will come to pass. They identify risks and create policies designed to minimize the costs of those risks. Actuaries often work for insurance companies, where their expertise helps set profitable rates for various insurance plans. In addition to strong math skills, actuaries need a solid understanding of computer science and databases.
From assessing stock options to reviewing taxes to making recommendations about retirement savings, financial advisors help clients make the most of their resources. They often have backgrounds in business, economics or psychology and should be good listeners who can explain complex systems clearly. When not directly advising clients, many financial advisors have to market their services through networking and making presentations. About a fifth of financial advisors are self-employed, and many work during the evenings and on weekends, which may appeal to millennials who want to set their own schedules and preserve a good work-life balance.
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Politics in the workplace
In today’s bipartisan, Twitter-fueled world, politics has infiltrated almost every part of our lives. In the last couple of months, we’ve seen major corporations risk consumer loyalty by speaking out against the Trump administration on a bevy of issues. Google signed a letter asking Trump to stay in the Paris agreement, Amazon spoke out against the travel ban to Muslim majority countries, and Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier left Trump’s Business Advisory Council after the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va.
In the survey, Aflac found that 77% of consumers and 74% of investment professionals agree that a company has to step up on issues that matter to people if they want to be known as a leader. Going further, 52% of consumers and 61% of investment professionals actually expect companies to speak out on controversial topics.
Still, even consumers aren’t exactly sure where politics and business converge. Even though more than half of people think companies should speak out, 58% of consumers and 69% of investment professionals also agreed with the statement, “Companies should stick to their business and avoid politics.” Talk about mixed messages.
If a company doesn’t want to speak out, there are some other consumer-approved ways to take action. Fifty-seven percent of respondents say donating to a group that works on an issue makes a company more responsible, and 53% agree that starting a nonprofit to advocate for its position on an issue is also an effective way to ignite change.
“We use this information to not only gauge where Aflac stands with consumers and investors, but also what is expected of corporate citizens,” said Hernandez-Blades
The study was done in conjunction with FleishmanHillard, a PR and marketing agency, which surveyed 1,001 Americans at least 18 years old from June 2-13.