According to a recent American study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, a loyal employee is more likely to be exploited by his superiors.
Faith pays off… doesn’t it? Considered an essential virtue in both the private and workplace, decades of research have proven that virtue can benefit both those who are virtuous and those around them. Still, step A recent study Led by Duke University researcher Matthew Stanley, this is a double-edged sword in business: A loyal employee is more likely to be exploited by his managers.
The other side of faith at work
An employee with a reputation for loyalty is not only considered a better friend, employee, and leader, but this trait can strengthen mutual support and trust in a team, according to several past studies.
Matthew Stanley does not deny the benefits, but he highlights a much less attractive aspect of this much-appreciated quality: “Loyal employees are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by managers” because they are perceived as more readily willing to make personal sacrifices.
The opposite is true: workers who admit to being exploited gain a reputation for loyalty to their superiors. This two-way link between loyalty and exploitation can create a “vicious circle of suffering,” according to the study.
In his conclusions, Matthew Stanley points out that while society has undoubtedly made progress in banning the worst forms of corporate exploitation, more subtle forms are still common and the most loyal employees are likely to be involved.
John, 29, faithful or unfaithful
To arrive at this observation is well summed up by the title of the paper ‘Loyal employees are paradoxically and selectively targeted for exploitation’Matthew Stanley and his team conducted four studies in the United States that depict hypothetical scenarios.
For each survey, managers receive a profile of a person named John. John is 29 years old, works in technology and lives in Chicago, USA. The company he works for, Intercom, has a tight budget and is looking to cut corners. John, depending on the profiles received, is loyal, disloyal or not.
In the first study, managers had to assign menial or unfair tasks and overtime to John without compensation. They were more likely to do so when John was portrayed as faithful. A second study consolidates the first results by demonstrating that other moral virtues—honesty and a sense of justice—do not have the same motivational effect on choosing superiors.
The following study shows that managers view John as more loyal if he agrees to work on his days off without benefits. A recent study confirms this finding.
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