That’s what we can infer from new research by organizational behavior professors at the Universities of Washington, Arizona and North Carolina.
“Our research shows that sleep deprivation contributes to unethical behavior at work by making you more susceptible to social influences, such as a boss who tells you to do something deceptive or unethical,” said Michael Christian, an organizational behavior professor at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.
Ethical codes of conduct, the researchers said, would not be enough to ensure the integrity of a company if employees are too worn down to keep up with an organization’s standards.
“We need to develop awareness about the negative effects of sleep deprivation,” Christian said. “Cultures can reinforce the myth that working hard and working well involves not sleeping, but our research shows yet again that sleep deprivation isn’t good for the individual or the organization.”
So apart from fixing a culture of excessive work, what can companies do to improve ethics amongst their staff members?
Offer free coffee, said Christian.
If you’re having problems with unethical behavior in the office at your company, maybe your people aren’t quite so bad – maybe they’re just sleep-deprived.