Have you ever heard of a “career moment”? A career moment is defined as a moment in an employee’s career that represents some form of major change.
Last week we hosted two regional events, one in Chicago and one in Minneapolis. Mitigating behavioral risk caused by career moments was a featured session at each event and the topic generated significant interest.
Jeffrey Piposar of Corporate Executive Board (CEB) presented findings from a 2012 research study conducted by CEB that looked at 16 different career moments and their impact on company risk. The study found that bribery, fraud, insider trading and inappropriate giving saw significant increases when employees experienced a negative career moment. “You may be wondering how often do career moments really happen. According to CEB, employees experience 2-3 negative career moments per year. Of more than 3,000 employees surveyed not ONE experienced zero career moments in a year.
Four Riskiest Career Moments – Time For Compliance Training
2. Organizational Restructuring
3. Change in Senior Leadership
4. Change in Job Responsibilities
These moments are ranked as high risk, based on the frequency that they occur and the percent change in misconduct observed after they occur.
How Does Your Organization Look?
Before I heard Jeff’s presentation the idea of a “career moment” had never entered my mind. But as I sat listening to him speak and present CEB’s findings I started thinking back on my relatively young career. According to CEB, employees experience an average of 2-3 career moments a year. Each moment then takes a whole year to recover from, which means that employees are in a constant state of “change fatigue” – i.e. they have barely recovered or have not recovered from one career moment before another one occurs. This constant state of unrest leads to increased observations and reports of misconduct, as well as a decrease in an employee’s perception of their company’s integrity.
I graduated from college 6 years ago and I’m on my 4th job. When I think about it, it seems kind of crazy. It was never my plan to have 4 jobs in 6 years. Why did it happen? I started thinking back to my career moments.
Job 1: Duration 1 Year
I held my first job out of college for one year. In that time I experienced 3 layoffs and a change in senior leadership. I remember my boss coming to me after the 3rd layoff was announced and saying, “Don’t worry, we would never fire you.”
I started looking for a new job that night.
Job 2: Duration 2.5 Years
My second job started off well, but within the 2.5 years that I was there my direct manager changed 3 times. On my one year anniversary the company reduced employee benefits and when my peers began to quit senior leadership refused to replace them. Those of us that had stayed saw a change in job responsibilities, we had to make up the work that had been done by the employees that left.
As more career moments occurred, I began to witness misconduct. In truth, I don’t remember any misconduct before the career moments, yet afterward we had several cases of sexual harassment and theft. I left not long after – I had no desire to work for a company where I saw integrity had dwindling before my eyes.
Job 3: Duration 1 Year
Six months into my third job, my company was acquired. I experienced a change of culture, a change of responsibilities and a reduction of benefits. I felt like I had been lied to. Here I had signed on for one thing and in less than a year, everything I had been promised was taken away.
In the end, the career moments I experienced led me to move on. But was that the only option? Had the companies I worked for taken intervention measures, they could have salvaged or even increased my perception of their integrity. But no steps were taken. Career moments are going to happen, because change is inevitable. However, risk and misconduct are not inevitable. Career moments are opportunities for compliance risk and opportunities to prevent misconduct.
3 Step Career Moment Intervention Process
1. Communicate Before a Career Moment
Research shows that if you can communicate to employees about a career moment before it happens, an employee’s perception of company integrity increases by 21%.
2. Use Direct Managers to Communicate
Utilizing direct managers to communicate change to employees increases perceptions of integrity by 26%.
Sometimes we cannot legally communicate about a career moment before it happens, but there is still a chance to turn a negative moment around. If a company makes it a priority to communicate how important integrity is after a career moment occurs perceptions of integrity increase by 40%!
As you continue in your career, take these steps into consideration. Reiterate to your direct managers in compliance training how important it is that they communicate with their reports. Utilize awareness materials to spread your commitment to integrity and remember you have a choice – as Walt Whitman said, “define the moment, or the moment will define you.”