Workplace misconduct affects many employees and companies in a variety of ways. It can have a negative effect on workplace morale and productivity, leading to decreases in efficiency, increased workplace conflict, and higher rates of stress-related illness among employees. In terms of financial losses, workplace misconduct can result in higher turnover costs and decreased workplace engagement – leading to lower overall profits. Companies may also face legal repercussions if workplace misconduct is not handled properly, as employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace environment for their employees.

About 75% of US workers have experienced or witnessed workplace misconduct, a very high number that should alarm companies. The effects of workplace misconduct are far-reaching, with the impact being felt by both employees and employers alike.

For instance, it can lead to poor customer service due to low morale or decreased customer satisfaction due to a lack of trust in an employer’s ability to protect their employee’s rights. Additionally, workplace misconduct can damage a company’s reputation if it is not addressed quickly and appropriately – resulting in further financial losses for the business.

What counts as workplace misconduct?

Workplace misconduct is any type of behaviour that goes against workplace policies, workplace laws and regulations, or accepted workplace norms. This can include anything from sexual or physical harassment, workplace bullying, discrimination, fraud and corruption, to workplace violence or intimidation. It is an umbrella term for a range of behaviours that can create an unsafe working environment for employees.

Signs to look out for when spotting workplace misconduct

Workplace misconduct can take many forms and it is essential that both employees and managers are familiar with them. Some red flags include:

  • Unprofessional behaviour
  • Unexplained absences from work
  • Bullying and harassment of colleagues
  • Refusal to follow workplace rules and regulations
  • Inappropriate use of company resources

Unprofessional behaviour

Unprofessional behaviour such as shouting, swearing or using aggressive language in the workplace is a form of workplace misconduct that can lead to serious consequences if left unchecked. Not only does it make for a hostile work environment, but it can also have a negative impact on workplace morale and productivity. It is important for employers to recognise when employees are exhibiting this type of behaviour so that they can address it quickly and appropriately before any further damage occurs. In order to do this, employers should be aware of the signs of unprofessional behaviour and how best to deal with them in order to maintain a safe and friendly workplace.

Unexplained absences from work

Unexplained absences from work or frequent lateness is a form of workplace misconduct that can damage company goals and objectives. These behaviours not only affect employee performance, but they could also lead to disciplinary action being taken against the employee in question. It is important for employers to be aware of these signs so that they can take appropriate steps to address any issues before further damage occurs.

To do this, employers should require staff to provide a reason for being absent or away. Additionally, employers should investigate any unexplained absences promptly to determine the cause and take corrective action if necessary. By doing this, companies can help ensure their workplace remains fair and conducive for all employees. Please note, though, that unexplained absences may be a sign of other misconduct – e.g. an employee may be trying to avoid being bullied at work.

Bullying and harassment of colleagues

Bullying and harassment of colleagues, including verbal abuse and intimidation, is one of the most serious forms of workplace misconduct that can have a devastating impact on both employees and employers. Not only does it create an uncomfortable workplace atmosphere, but it can also lead to employee stress, anxiety, depression and even physical illness. Additionally, workplace bullying can lead to lower-quality teamwork and less cooperation between staff,

It is crucial for employers to be aware of the signs of workplace bullying so that they can prepare a response plan created solely for addressing that specific issue. Some of the common signs of workplace bullying include derogatory language or name-calling; excluding someone from workplace activities or conversations; spreading malicious rumours or gossip; giving someone the “silent treatment” and displaying aggressive body language.

Refusal to follow workplace rules and regulations

Refusal to follow workplace rules and regulations can be a serious problem in the workplace, with potentially severe consequences. Employees who fail to comply with workplace policies and procedures can endanger their fellow workers, disrupt workplace operations, and put the company at risk of lawsuits and fines. Refusal to follow workplace rules is often a symptom of deeper workplace problems such as lack of respect for authority or lack of understanding of workplace safety protocols. In addition, it can also be an indication that an employee is feeling overwhelmed or stressed due to increased workloads or inadequate support from management.

Employers should take immediate action when they observe an employee refusing to follow workplace rules and regulations. Noncompliance should not be tolerated so finding ways to tackle it quickly is of great importance. Employers should also ensure that their employees are aware of all applicable workplace policies and procedures through regular staff meetings, written communication, or other means. It is best in the first instance, unless there is clear evidence to the contrary, to treat non-compliance as a training issue rather than serious misconduct – however, if it continues to occur then it becomes clear that there is an attitude issue that makes it hard to trust the employee.

Inappropriate use of company resources

The workplace is an environment where employees are expected to act in a professional and ethical manner. Unfortunately, some employees take advantage of their workplace and use company resources for personal gain. This behaviour can also go as far as asset misappropriation and it can have a major influence in the overall success of the business as the resources are misused. In order to protect the workplace from such unethical practices, employers should be aware of what constitutes inappropriate use of company resources so they can identify any potential issues or misconduct early on.

How to address workplace misconduct

As with any sensitive matter, employers need to be prepared to handle difficult situations carefully. They should:

  • Investigate any complaints promptly
  • Provide resources for employees
  • Establish clear workplace policies to address workplace misconduct
  • Provide effective training

Investigate any complaints promptly

Investigating workplace misconduct complaints promptly is essential for a safe and productive workplace. Employers should have a procedure in place to ensure that any workplace misconduct accusations are taken seriously and responded to immediately. They should ensure that all staff understand the process and have access to the necessary support and resources throughout the investigation. It is crucial for employers to take all reports of misconduct seriously and investigate them in a timely manner, not only so they can take corrective action, but also to protect their employees from further harm or retaliatory behaviour.

When investigating workplace misconduct, employers should aim to collect as much evidence as possible, including witnesses’ statements, emails, or other documents which can help verify a complaint. After gathering all relevant information, employers should analyse it carefully to reach an accurate conclusion about whether workplace misconduct has occurred. With this evidence collected, employers should be able to properly assess what disciplinary measures may be necessary and consider if any steps need to be taken to prevent future incidents from occurring. Employers must also ensure that investigations are conducted fairly and objectively, with due process given to both parties involved, ensuring any action taken respects the rights of all employees involved in the process.

Provide resources for employees

Providing resources for employees is an important step in addressing workplace misconduct. By offering counselling services and employee assistance programs, employers can ensure that their staff have access to the necessary support they need when dealing with workplace disputes or any other workplace issues. These resources can help create a safe and productive workplace environment by giving employees an outlet to discuss their concerns and provide them with guidance on how to handle any potential conflicts that may arise. Not only do these services offer support, but they also give employees the opportunity to learn new skills which will help them better navigate workplace dynamics in the future.

Establish clear workplace policies to address workplace misconduct

Employers must establish clear workplace policies and procedures and check that all staff are aware of applicable workplace rules and regulations, so they know what behaviours are acceptable and what is considered a breach of policy. Employers should also regularly review existing workplace policies to make sure they remain updated with any changes that may have occurred. When creating workplace policies, employers should consider the different levels of authority among employees and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each individual within the company. This will help prevent any potential conflicts or misunderstandings between workers.

Provide effective training

In addition to establishing clear workplace policies, employers should also provide staff with training sessions on workplace conduct, so they can better understand their rights and obligations in the workplace. These sessions should educate employees on topics such as sexual harassment, discrimination, appropriate behaviour in the workplace, whistleblowing procedures and other relevant topics which could be pertinent for dealing with workplace misconduct.

By providing employees with this information, it will reduce the chances of incidents occurring in the first place and increase their knowledge if something does happen. It is important for these sessions to give employees the opportunity to work through hypothetical scenarios and enhance their reasoning skills, and not just rote learn policies and procedures, to give them the tools to navigate complex situations effectively.

Please remember

Employers must take proactive steps to identify and address workplace misconduct as soon as possible. A zero-tolerance policy should be adopted to ensure clear boundaries and expectations are established among employees so they know what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. Employers should also create a safe reporting system in which employees feel comfortable coming forward with their concerns. Employers should also offer appropriate training programs on workplace misconduct awareness for all staff members so everyone understands what constitutes unacceptable behaviour in the workplace.

Polonious has helped numerous clients deal with workplace misconduct.investigations and assures them that all information will be stored securely. As we are ISO 27001 and ISO 9001, we ensure that we provide a high-quality system that upholds confidentiality for as long as it is needed. If you want to learn more, reach out! We are happy to show you how we can help you achieve a faster and more efficient investigation.