Employees are more likely to behave honestly on the job when they believe an employer is committed to their well-being and career advancement. That’s what a survey of supermarket employees found . It was conducted by the Workforce Development Group, the Food Marketing Institute and Purdue University.

The study concluded that employees who have positive attitudes toward their employer tend to be highly productive employees. In addition, these high performers are less likely to engage in counterproductive behaviors such as stealing cash or merchandise from their employer, being absent from work or abusing drugs and alcohol on the job.

Surveyed employees who consider themselves to be “top performers” reported greater job satisfaction than lower performers working for other employers. Survey respondents consisted of 938 supermarket employees at 938 separate stores, representing 26 different supermarket companies.

Top tier employees, when compared with lower-performing employees with counterproductive behaviors working at other stores, tend to give their employers higher marks for “winning culture” characteristics such as these:

  1. Fairness with employees: dealing with complaints, problems, concerns
  2. Caring and empathy: respecting and being sensitive to employees needs
  3. Employee empowerment: allowing employees to have input on key decisions on the job
  4. Career-enrichment: developing employees through training and seminars; communicating promotion or transfer opportunities
  5. Equitable pay and benefits: ensuring that employees perceive they are being fairly compensated
  6. Accurate job-person matching: ensuring that employees’ knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes fit closely with job requirements
  7. Honesty and ethics: ensuring that all employees exhibit the highest levels of integrity, regardless of position.
  8. Safe working conditions: training employees to be safe at work and ensuring that work locations and processes are designed to minimize accidents.

The study concluded that employers with a positive culture experience much less theft than other organizations. The average annual admitted theft by an individual employee in supermarkets with a positive culture was approximately $13, compared with $90 at employers not identified as having positive cultures.

An employer was classified as having a positive culture if more than 50 percentĀ of its surveyed employees indicated that the employer held at least seven of the eight important organizational values listed above.

The study indicated that an organization’s culture can greatly impact employee behavior. It showed that establishing and communicating positive corporate values can dramatically reduce many forms of counterproductive behavior.