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Workers ‘more altruistic’ than expected

Workers in offices where jobs are at risk are just as concerned about the effects on others as they are about their own security, according to new research.

The study by Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University revealed that company reshuffles and fear of redundancies can be driven by more than just self-preservation as many grow concerned for the future of their colleagues and even the organisation as a whole.

Believing that it goes beyond ‘black and white’ thinking, most workers involved in the study developed elaborate opinions about the effects of the changing landscape, factoring in positive and negative outcomes. The school was surprised by the results, anticipating many more to simply look after their own position within a company and minimise the damage to their careers.

The study analysed employee reactions to 23 change projects in a large police organisation, with workers often leaving genuinely concerned for other employees’ security, and even how the effect could leave the police force vulnerable. Some in the study even admitted the change project was a failure if they perceived the changes to ultimately leave the company in a negative state, regardless of the safety of their own position.

“We observed that people want the gains and losses to be distributed fairly, according to a set of moral standards, even if the organisational changes do not affect them directly, or when the fair treatment of others comes at a personal cost,” said Gabriele Jacobs, part of the research team.

“You could say people are more altruistic than earlier research has suggested.”