Saturday, September 22, 2007

Depends What You Mean by Steal

What fascinating results from my stealing of office supplies survey! It looks like the majority of people thought there was some wiggle room in the word "steal." I couldn't really clarify what I meant in the question because of space issues, but basically, if you steal office supplies, you remove office supplies from work for personal use.

I asked the question because of a few recent surveys about the majority of workers admitting to stealing office supplies. From Plants, Decor, Furniture among the items workers admit to stealing:

Turns out the majority of office workers (58%) have taken office supplies for their personal use.... Among those who admit to taking office supplies for personal use, the most commonly stolen office supplies include pens/pencils (77%), followed by self-adhesive "sticky" notes (44%) and paper clips (40%). Some employees (2%) are even taking decorations like plants, paintings and office furniture (2%).

Another survey gives 67% as the percent of workers who have stolen office supplies. And in a third survey concerning stealing office supplies only within the last year, nearly a quarter of younger workers admit to stealing office supplies while only 13% of workers over 50 admit to stealing. And, also interesting to me, only 1 in 5 younger workers (18-24 years old) don't think it's stealing to take office supplies for personal use.

So where does this leave us? I think some of the stealing of literally 50 billion dollars worth of office supplies in the U.S. each year is related to workers feeling mistreated and as if they deserve a pen or post-its from work. Just a hypothesis. I'm open to hearing your own hypotheses.