Employees Give Back for Bosses Who Walk the Walk

Given how much of our lives we spend at work, it's no surprise that so many of us want to do so in alignment with our core values. One way many businesses fulfill this is through corporate responsibility programs — workers who care about environmental issues, for instance, care more about showing up for companies that do the same. But there may be a caveat: Ethical employees want truly ethical employers.

A new study from scholars at the University of Vermont and United Arab Emirates University suggests that employees both feel and demonstrate extra loyalty to a company that they believe exemplifies their own values. Yet even if that's true on a corporate level, if your immediate boss doesn't live up to that standard, both personal participation in value-related behavior and willingness to engage in the company's community-based initiatives vanish.

"When morally loaded cues stemming from the organization and its leaders are inconsistent, employees become skeptical about the organization's ethical stance, integrity, and overall character," said study co-lead Kenneth De Roeck in a press release. "Consequently, employees refrain from identifying with their employers, and as a result, significantly diminish their engagement in creating social and environmental good."

In short? A good boss isn't just good for her direct reports — she's good for society as a whole.

"[O]ur measure of employees' volunteer efforts consists of actions that extend well beyond the work environment," De Roeck said, "showing that organizations can be a strong engine for positive social change by fostering, through the mechanism of identification, a new and more sustainable way of life to their employees."