The Surprising Benefit of Employing Bad Apples

Bad behaviour has a positive side-effect, according to a new study. How that can help a company recover from misconduct

Written by PROFIT Staff
Illustration: Kagan McLeod
Illustration: Kagan McLeod

A few bad apples may actually improve workplace productivity for everyone else, says a new report from Johns Hopkins University. Researchers found that straight arrows work harder after witnessing “deviant” behaviour by colleagues.

The study, published in the online edition of the journal Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, found that workers who closely identify with their employers are particularly likely to up their effort in response to a company catastrophe.

Encouraging bad behaviour for the sake of this productivity dividend would be “patently unwise,” the study’s authors emphasize. But the finding may be beneficial to managers dealing with the aftermath of misconduct. The researchers suggest emphasizing the similarities between the bad apples and straight arrows, which makes the latter feel more closely associated with the problem at hand and more motivated to fix it.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com