Survey Reveals Generation Gap in Employee Attitudes Relating to Employer Confidential Information

A recent survey of 2,625 adult Americans reveals some interesting attitudes towards employer confidential information, including different attitudes depending on a person’s age. Over two-thirds (68%) of 18-34 year olds responded that it is acceptable to remove confidential information from their place of employment. This contrasts with just half (50%) of those 55 or older believing such behavior is acceptable.

In fact, 86% of those 55 and over believe someone should be fired for taking confidential information, while only 74% of those younger than 55 think the same. The survey also reveals that 40% of adults believe it is never acceptable to take confidential company information out of the office, but others think it is acceptable to do so under certain circumstances, including when the boss says it’s okay (48%), to finish a late-night project from home instead of at the office (32%), to work over the weekend or while on vacation (30%), when the information is about themselves (16%), when the boss won’t find out (2%), and when family or friends promise to keep it confidential (2%).

This survey indicates that the challenge employers face in protecting their confidential information likely will not go away on its own. In fact, with the advent of the Internet, younger generations have grown up in a culture where the free exchange of information and ideas is more efficient (and more valued) than ever before. So getting younger employees to understand the importance of protecting their employers’ confidential information after they have grown accustomed to quick and free access to videos, music, and other Internet content will continue to be a problem.

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