A new report by LRN Corporation suggests that Gen Z employees are significantly more inclined to bend the rules or engage in misconduct compared to their older counterparts.

The report, titled the Benchmark of Ethical Culture Report, surveyed over 8,500 employees across 15 countries and 13 industries.

Its findings indicate a concerning trend: 22 percent of Gen Z respondents admitted to engaging in unethical behaviour within the past year, compared to just 9 percent of Baby Boomers. This discrepancy suggests that Gen Z workers are 2.5 times more likely to agree with rule-breaking than their older colleagues.

Also, the study unveiled a broader issue of trust within organisational justice systems. Despite nearly a quarter (23%) of employees globally admitting that breaking rules is acceptable if it facilitates job completion, only 79 percent of those who observed misconduct actually reported it.

The top barrier to reporting misconduct was a lack of faith in the organisation’s ability to address the issue effectively or fear of retaliation.

Perceived inefficiencies

Harassment, discrimination, conflicts of interest, and violations of employee health and safety regulations were among the most commonly observed misconduct. However, a significant portion of these instances went unreported due to perceived inefficiencies or fears within organisational structures.

The research also delved into employees’ perceptions of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the workplace. While a majority foresee positive impacts, those who view their companies as adaptable and resilient are more receptive to AI’s potential benefits on career opportunities.

Commenting on the report, Ty Francis, MBE, Chief Advisory Officer at LRN, emphasised the need for organisations to address these challenges head-on. He highlighted the importance of fostering ethical conduct at all levels of the organisation, regardless of generational differences.

LRN’s CEO, Kevin Michielsen, echoed these sentiments, stressing the significance of ethical cultures in driving business performance. He emphasised the correlation between strong ethical cultures and enhanced adaptability, a critical quality in today’s complex business landscape.

The report’s findings underscore the pivotal role of trust and ethical conduct in shaping workplace dynamics and organisational success. As companies navigate evolving challenges, prioritising ethical cultures emerges as a fundamental strategy for long-term resilience and performance.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.