Workers who feel left out by their peers are more likely to act in unethical ways, according 2014 study on employee ethics by University of Georgia Terry College of Business. An employee who feels excluded will feel pressured to do something above and beyond to get attention and prove their value to the group. This could range from undermining coworkers, cheating to get ahead, and lying to others.

Researcher Marie Mitchell tested the effects of exclusion on participants who were divided into groups of four and asked to take tests that were scored against opposing teams. Participants were told that all four group members would take the first test, but that they would vote for which three participants were allowed to take the second test. After completing a computer task, each participant was told either that one or three members had voted for them. Then, the first task began.

Participants were asked to record how many times they solved a certain anagram. The anagram was impossible to solve, so it was easy for researchers to identify which participants were lying. Not surprisingly, the participants who were told that they only received one vote were more likely to cheat.

The takeaway lesson here is obvious: encourage inclusivity among your team members. Try and find ways for outcasts to fit in with the rest of the group and try to promote an accepting and caring workplace. Let employees be themselves and embrace any unique traits or quirks they may possess. Your employees will not only be happier, but they will also be more ethical.

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