Unethical behaviour in the workplace is, unfortunately, more common than you would think. While the first things that come to your mind are probably issues such as fraud, theft and the like, unethical behaviour refers to so much more than these extreme cases and you might not even realize an employee of yours might be practising unethical behaviour behind your back.
From misusing company time and violating company internet policies by visiting websites that are not related to their work through showcasing abusive behaviour and disrespecting colleagues all the way to the aforementioned crimes, unethical behaviour creates a toxic work environment where you cannot expect business to flourish. In addition, in a toxic environment, your employees won’t feel safe and confident enough to report misconduct, as a survey from Australia showed, leading to a vicious cycle. Ultimately, this can even ruin a company completely. This is why it is of the utmost importance to nip these kinds of issues in the bud and nurture a wholesome workplace instead. Here are a few ways you can prevent and overcome unethical behaviour in the workplace.
1. It all starts at the hiring process
The first step to solving any issue is preventing it from ever happening. Therefore, making sure your business does not have to deal with unethical behaviour also starts with prevention: that is, your hiring phase. So, assess whether your current screening and hiring system is adequate on this front. While qualifications and experience are certainly important, make sure you also pay close attention to values. You want people in your company who share your values and who have strong morals, who are ready to work for your company, not just at your company. Appropriate screening in the form of background checks is also essential. If possible, you should also contact your candidate’s previous employers as they will be a reliable source to learn about the candidate’s character and work ethics.
Checking every job candidate’s criminal record can be costly and time-consuming; thus, many companies choose to hire third-party background checkers instead. This helps them save on labor and resources while streamlining the hiring process. Before delving into the background of a candidate, ensure that this step is legal in the country you’re operating and that your hiring process is in compliance with laws that protect employees’ privacy rights and other relevant laws.
2. Be sure to have a clear code of conduct
Secondly, your company should have a written code of conduct in place that clearly outlines what is expected of your employees as well as what is unacceptable. Not having this document can lead to blurred lines and grey zones that crafty employees might see as perfect for exploitation. Having everything written down, on the other hand, makes it straightforward and the employee will have no other option than to deal with the consequences of their actions. Just make sure everyone is up to date with the code of conduct. In case of misconduct, make sure the rest of the employees are aware of the punishment that was carried out. You will be showing an example in this way.
3. Implement security measures
Whether your company has already experienced issues with unethical behaviour or you are simply preparing for this scenario, something that will streamline the entire process is implementing certain security and surveillance measures that will keep everyone in check. If you have a lot of employees, it becomes impossible to keep an eye on everyone, and that is where this method comes into play. So, install a surveillance system that will keep both your company and your employees secure. In addition, to stop the misuse of company time and internet or the abuse of company data, turn to software that will keep track of employee behaviour while on the computer. If your company has a fleet, there is appropriate fleet tracking software as well.
4. Punish appropriately
In case an employee exhibits unacceptable unethical behaviour, it’s essential that you react timely and appropriately. If we are talking about a serious situation, firing the employee on the spot might be the right thing to do. However, in these situations, legal involvement is often inevitable. In the most populous cities of developed countries such as Australia, these issues are often taken to court to ensure everyone’s rights remain respected. For instance, the accused has the option to turn to reliable criminal defence lawyers from Brisbane.
5. Have insurance in place
Your company probably already has a slew of different insurance policies in place, but if you want extra protection from instances of unethical employee behaviour, you can look into Employee Dishonesty Insurance or Fidelity Bonds. Basically, this type of insurance protects you in case any type of fraud is committed by an employee of yours (or a group of them). Stealing company resources (physically or otherwise), forging documents or altering them, misusing company credit cards or illicitly transferring company funds – you name it. Having insurance as a safety net to fall back on in case anything like this happens can mean the difference between your company going down or surviving.
6. Work on building a loyal community
If you constantly work on building a positive work environment where your employees have appropriate morale and loyalty to you and your company, the chances of unethical behaviour become smaller. Therefore, make sure you nurture such a community and your employees will not feel the need to exploit you. In addition, if your employees feel safe and comfortable in your company, they will also be more likely to speak up, should they experience or witness unethical behaviour from the side of a colleague.
Oftentimes, what leads to unethical behaviour in the workplace is a lack of accountability. So, make sure that there are clear rules and that all your employees know that they are accountable for their actions and that they will be caught and prosecuted should they do something serious. This way, you can probably rest assured you will have no problems.
Emma Williams is an Australian writer with a master‘s degree in business administration, who has a passion for anything lifestyle and design related. She spends most of her time redecorating and participating in house projects. As a great nature lover, her biggest pleasure is spending time in a small cottage by the river.