Shopworkers steal less when they earn more

People working in the retail sector are less likely to steal from their employer when handed a higher wage, new research has suggested. Clara Xiaoling Chen, a Business Professor at the University of Illinois, found a negative association between relative salaries - earning an appropriate amount compared to similar workers - and stealing among staff.

According to the report, individuals earning good money are less inclined to take from their bosses because they are eager to stay in their job and wish to behave properly as a gesture of positive reciprocity.

It was also noted a company that pays its staff well is more likely to receive applications from a greater number of honest jobseekers.

Ms Chen - who co-authored the report with Tatiana Sandino of the University of Southern California - observed: "Our research provides systematic empirical evidence that wage premiums do play a role in reducing employee theft and fostering more ethical norms within an organisation."

She added the results of the study can be applicable to a number of retailer types, including restaurants and department stores.

Chartered Psychologist Emma Donaldson-Feilder comments:

"This is a very interesting study, which highlights the significance of reciprocity in the employment relationship - and the influence of justice and injustice on employee behaviour. It is also important, as the authors point out, to look at the range of ways in which fairness, reciprocity and trust can be developed within the employment relationship.

"Good people management and establishing a good employment relationship is not just about pay packets - treating people with respect, valuing their input, listening to what they have to say and providing support are also vital. Integrity needs to be evident at all levels in the organisation."