If you think your co-workers will be as thoughtful as your friends in your personal life, you might want to think again. And if you’re a highly productive employee but you’ve been laid off after several years of service, you’ve experienced the same phenomenon.

Research at the Stanford Graduate School Business — five studies – indicates you shouldn’t expect any favors at work. The study is entitled, “How ‘Organization’ Can Weaken the Norm of Reciprocity: The Effects of Attributions for Favors of Reciprocity and a Calculative Mindset.”

The study authored by Stanford researcher Jeffrey Pfeffer and Peter Belmer appeared in the March 2015 issue of the new journal Academy of Management Discoveries.

Examples of findings from the five studies:

— If colleagues treat people to dinner, there was no reciprocity. But people would return the favor with friends when treated to dinner.

— If respondents were handed unanticipated payment and then were requested to complete a second survey, there was more reciprocity from social friends than workers. Forty-three percent of respondents agreed to help doctoral students in a survey. Just 23 percent agreed to help a survey by professional researchers.

So don’t count on a sense of etiquette or good taste at work. That goes for management decisions, too.

Companies don’t hesitate to slash health-care benefits or lay off employees who had displayed good performances and loyalty.

“You see on a daily basis, companies violating commitments that they’ve made to their employees,” said Professor Pfeffer.

“I see people going into the world of work and being hideously disappointed because they have not properly prepared themselves, protected themselves, psychologically girded themselves,” he added.

So don’t be surprised by little or no company loyalty, or if your co-workers appear to be reluctant to lend you a helping hand. A good manager would discourage the practice.

The professor said companies should work to improve their cultures for a more supportive environment. That would include highlighting their employees’ past performances, encourage co-workers to be thoughtful, and to emphasize a more sociable atmosphere – to stimulate more teamwork.

Unfortunately, brace yourself when you’re hired by a company. Be prepared for a lack of fairness or to be strategically more selfish regarding your career.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are management tips to improve your culture:

6 Steps to Implement a Cultural Change for Profits — If your company is lacking in teamwork, morale is poor and profits are weak, chances are you need to change your organization’s culture. Be forewarned, changing a culture is a monumental chore because it will take strategic planning and super powers of persuasion.

Why Executives Emphasize Communication Training for Employees — Among human resources training priorities, employee communication is often now more important than skills, say many executives. Two-thirds of executives responding to a survey say communication skills are most needed by certain employees.

Elevate Sales via 5 Best Practices in Pricing and HR Training — Sophistication in pricing by salespeople is an excellent driver to grow earnings rather than just looking for ways to cut costs. Instead of growing their profits with sophistication in pricing, many businesspeople miss growth opportunities when they mistakenly cut muscle – usually in human capital and branding. Here’s a better way.

Easy Ways to Boost Your Employees’ Morale — Employee morale affects performance. Study after study shows a significant percentage of worker morale is mediocre, at best. That’s often the case even for companies that are able to pay competitive wages and benefits. As you might guess, it’s a bigger quandary for business owners that don’t have enough cash flow for raises.

Here are tips for employees:

7 Steps to Convince Your Boss to Give You a Different Job — Do you feel as though you’re a round peg in a square hole? Or vice versa — a square peg in a round hole? You might think you’re in the wrong job. Perhaps you are. Is it a case of being over-qualified or under-qualified? Or do you want a promotion?

Communication – You Can Train Yourself to Stop Stressing — It’s OK to be nervous before giving a speech or when you’re entering an important round of negotiations. Feeling pressure is one thing but allowing it to morph into stress and tension is another. When you allow this to happen, in a sense, you’re giving away your personal power, which inhibits your performance.

With a Mentor, You Won’t be Alone in Making Career Decisions — You don’t have to be alone in making career decisions. No matter what you do for a living, there’s one investment on which you can count to improve your career. Plus, it won’t cost you any money. Huh? Yes, you can get a mentor.

“The world is not fair, and often fools, cowards, liars and the selfish hide in high places.”

-Bryant H. McGill


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.