Employee bad behaviour that will shock you

by Janie Smith13 Jun 2014
Have you ever deliberately snubbed or ignored someone at work who you didn’t like?

If you answered yes, you’re among the whopping 87% of Australian employees who admitted to the same thing.

And that’s not counting the 67% of employees who said they had been intentionally rude to others at work, or the 55% who fessed up to stealing work property.

A study by organisational psychology firm SACS Consulting revealed these statistics, along with other, similarly disturbing numbers – 68% of employees had ignored safety or occupational health and safety rules at work, 73% had taken sick days when they weren’t sick, 56% had left jobs because they didn’t get on with colleagues and 88% had broken the rules at work.

Andrew Marty, managing director of SACS and principal researcher on the study, said he found the results eye-opening.

“You tend to find these things when you send out a confidential survey – you tend to get more honest answers than you do in the workplace. These things are vastly underreported for all kinds of reasons and people don’t usually confess to them. Colleagues tend not to rat each other out either.”

What surprised him the most was that of the 87% who admitted to snubbing others, 41% of them said they had done so more than once, rating their response as “sometimes” or more frequently.  

“‘Sometimes’ usually means that people can remember more than one incident of having done this, so there must be a heck of a lot of snubbing going on out there.”

Marty said that part of the reason for conducting the research was to find out whether such counterproductive work behaviour could be predicted in workers by looking at a person’s value set and personality.

“The interesting part of this is that personality is very heavily genetically determined whereas values are acquired in the course of life, so it’s the old nature vs nurture equation. What we found was that combination of personality and values could predict this kind of counterproductive workplace behaviours jointly to the tune of 45% accuracy. That is almost unheard of in this kind of thing.”

He said that regular job interviews were only about 10-15% accurate when it came to predicting bad behaviour in candidates.

“Interviews are better than nothing by a long way, but they’re certainly not massively accurate.”

With all the attention that managers’ bad behaviour gets in the news, not to mention movies, TV shows and countless business books, perhaps it’s time to look at what’s going on among staff.

What do you consider to be the worst employee workplace behaviour?


  • by Matilda 13/06/2014 12:56:38 PM

    Very interesting topic and one which should be looked at very seriously. I've worked as a manager and managed a few employee and I was "bullied" by my staffs. As I was new to the department and the majority of the staff have been working in the department for at least 15 -20years, I had no right to manage them. This department had the worst work place culture and attitude that I have ever seen. The business manager who has been working there also for at least 15 yrs descriped it as "the most toxic environment". My direct manager was also just like the staff as he too started off as a kid in the department so all the staff were his friends and he allowed them to get away with their laziness, bulling and bad attitues. I know many managers and supervisors out there are being bullied by their staff and this is becasue the head of departments protects the staff and do not support the managers. It is sad that staff's words are taken nothing but the truth and the poor managers have to suffer and no one cares. There shold be some kind of law to "fire" workers who bully their managers. People focus on staff being bullied but there is nothing to protect managers when the situation is reversed.

  • by Melanie 16/06/2014 11:42:37 AM

    I am constantly snubbed at work and my opinions are not valued. Needless to say it makes it difficult to want to come to work or to be productive when laziness and association is more valued than how much you do. I try to work methodology everyday and have ensured to set some personal goals in place. Some days are harder than others, whilst it's unfortunate that organisations allow this to happen it is comforting to know that I am not alone

  • by Kerri 25/06/2014 10:17:09 AM

    Wow Matilda I'm in exactly the same predicament. Same issues exactly and it's so hard as I've never experienced this in my whole working career. Funny as the word "toxic" was also used by a previous staff member to me. When I was interviewed I was told everyone would dislike me as they were always able to do as they please and this went on for years. Along comes Kerri as Manager and I'm snubbed by head office staff, I'm continually harassed by them, My general manager told me that she doesn't know how to handle it. I'ts the first time in my professional life that I've been treated this way and it is just horrible. Reading both your comments actually blew me away to know this happens in other workplaces too. I believe in all big companies especially where they can afford to have a HR person onsite full-time this would help very much I think.

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