Everyone wants a positive and healthy workplace culture. Organisations that support their employees, provide a suitable environment for self-growth and development and promote autonomy are usually seen as the best places to work.
However, the safety and health of the workplace can also get affected by unregulated behaviour over time. We are referring to employee misconduct in the workplace.
Employee misconduct refers to, but is not limited to, any action that harms the company, its employees, reputation, assets, customers, or partners. It may include fraudulent behaviour of any kind including stealing from the company, data violations; harassment, unacceptable behaviour, and other issues.
Employee misconduct does not happen suddenly. Someone usually finds loopholes in company policies and gradually breaches them for their own benefit. Examples range from faking your attendance to siphoning money from the company.
Why should you care about workplace misconduct?
Companies lose millions of dollars per year due to corporate fraud. Moreover, misconduct also affects organisational culture, mental health, emotional wellbeing and productivity. Employee misconduct doesn’t just cost organisations financially; it makes them lose reputation, employees, and market share.
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Here are some ways to handle employee misconduct.
10 tips to eliminate workplace misconduct
- Review and amend company policies
Employees get away with workplace misconduct when there is ambiguity in policies. To avoid that, make sure company policies are up-to-date and cover everything about workplace misconduct.
Inform your employees about what defines misconduct in the workplace, how to identify misconduct (whether as victims, spectators or perpetrators), what the policies say, whom it applies to, and how to report workplace misconduct.
Policies can be as specific as necessary and must cover all types of misconduct, including falsification of documents, fraud and embezzlement, forgery, harassment, conflicts of interest, damage to property, or even violations of health and safety. Policies relating to protection of whistleblowers should also be also formulated.
Here it’s also important to mention clearly what kind of penalties or actions will be taken if such instances of workplace misconduct are found. Sending out regular email reminders also creates better awareness and encourages people to avoid, and report, such behaviours.
2. Conduct a risk assessment
While you are revisiting old policies and renewing them, take this opportunity to also conduct a risk assessment.
Revisit old complaints to identify the common types or levels of misconduct and create preventive mechanisms to cover these common issues. These may throw up interesting information about the sources of the misconduct, the locations where they normally happen, or the loopholes that are exploited by the violators.
3. Educate people; get everyone involved
Open conversations about misconduct in the workplace allows more people to speak up without fear of judgement. So, encourage discussions around the topic, organise expert-led talks and trainings, or support groups.
Inform the audience about the different types of misconduct in the workplace, laws governing punishments for those involved, and ways they can keep their behaviour in check. Ensure that the training is inclusive, and easily accessible. Include employees from all levels and backgrounds, roles, and hierarchies.
4. Provide reporting tools
As an organisation, you must provide tools to employees to deal with misconduct at their level. These tools could include anonymous platforms to report misconduct, security cameras, or a psychologist they can speak to. A reporting system that protects the whistleblower works in two ways: not only does it ensure the safety of the person reporting; it also keeps everyone’s behaviour in check.
5. Delegate the responsibility
It isn’t just the HR’s responsibility to handle workplace misconduct. Empower and delegate responsibility to the leaders, managers and supervisors to deal with workplace misconducts.
Provide them with training on how to communicate effectively with their subordinates, what to do in certain situations and how to handle complaints related to misconduct in the workplace.
6. Set up support groups
Peer support groups can be led by experts or trained managers, supervisors or team leaders. Not only do such support groups provide emotional support and create safe spaces to speak openly about misconduct in the workplace, they also give leaders the chance to build better relations with their team members and employees.
Support groups can be started for different teams and functions that are at risk of misconduct – e.g., factory-floor workers, procurement teams, or technology teams. Such groups should be led by a psychologist who can explore the real issues and guide the team towards suggestions.
Also read: What is Quality in Mental Healthcare?
7. Be proactive
Misconduct prevention tools and processes can protect companies and save millions of dollars. These tools could range from security cameras to restricting physical and digital accesses, conducting regular audits, and having a robust training calendar. Once these measures are implemented, make sure that they are properly implemented and regularly updated to maintain their effectiveness.
8. Revise your hiring process
You cannot always control how people behave, but you can surely control whom you bring in to the workplace.
When interviewing potential employees, include questions that will reveal their values, character, and approach towards work. Make sure that they are a good fit for your organisation. Once they are hired, including sessions about misconduct in the workplace during the orientation can set the bar for acceptable employee behaviour.
9. Consistency is key
Whether it is how you handle the complaints, or the training sessions you conduct, consistency is of utmost importance to eliminate workplace misconduct.
Regular training sessions help keep the information fresh in memory, and the fine-tuning of grievance redressal process ensures every complaint gets treated through the same process with equal importance.
10. Provide help
Providing help in the form of guides, books, emailers, townhalls with leaders, or expert-run workshops to answer employees’ doubts and queries about misconduct. Make sure that these resources cover all the possible scenarios and present clear strategies or solutions so that there is no ambiguity in anyone’s mind.
Direct conversations with counsellors or therapists also helps victims or eye-witnesses of workplace misconduct deal with the situation, get guidance and resolve their emotional conflict.
Check out this article on Improving Internal Communication at Workplace
We hope that our blog on tips to eliminate workplace misconduct was helpful. For more such content, keep following the Manah Wellness blogs.
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