It can be tempting to take the easy way out when faced with a difficult problem or task. Sometimes this equates to a simple shortcut that really does help you do a job more efficiently. Other times, this equates to just doing a half-assed job, bypassing important procedural steps or, progressing further down the poor-ethics road, to lying and stealing. A new study that was published in the March issue of Journal of Applied Psychology found that at least two cups of caffeinated coffee could improve the ethical response of tired employees.
The study presented sleep-deprived volunteers with a choice to cheat by going along with a lie on a task with the promise of extra money or to resist cheating. Caffeinated employees were more likely to resist the temptation to cheat. This study also simply shows that tired people may be more likely to take the “easy way out” even if it is unethical.
The solution is for employers to encourage employees to stay bright and alert by suppling them with coffee as needed and by making it possible for them to get adequate rest at the end of a work day. Since you can’t control whether your employees are staying up all night watching marathons of low-budget-yet-addictive SyFy channel movies, stocking the break room with good coffee is the most reliable option.