Unethical workers get away with bad behaviour

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Companies talk up their values, but how consistent is HR in backing it up with action? It seems most employees think their less-than-ethical colleagues are getting away with bad behaviour.

A study from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 40% of employees believe individuals whose behaviour consistently goes against the values of the organisations they work for, are either left unpunished or are rewarded or promoted.

Just one third (33%) of those surveyed said that colleagues were reprimanded for consistent rule breaking, indicating that employers are not doing enough to ensure that their business values are being upheld.

There is good news coupled with the bad though – organisations which keep fairness and transparency front and centre can enjoy the returns of a more motivated and committed workforce. Just over half (52%) of the 2,000 employees surveyed agreed that their organisation’s values positively influence behaviour at work.

However, in companies where undue pressure is put on achieving profits, adherence to those values is compromised. In fact the top reason cited by employees who don't believe values have an impact was that profit was placed ahead of organisational values. The most cited reason by those in the public sector is that there is one rule for senior managers and one rule for everyone else, highlighting the importance of consistency and accountability at all levels within the organisation.

“In the wake of the banking crisis and other corporate scandals, now more than ever, organisational values should be at the forefront of business leaders' minds,” CIPD CEO Peter Cheese said. “At the heart of an organisation's culture has to be a set of agreed values that resonate with employees at all levels from the board to the front line in order to provide a template for the behaviours and standards expected.”

Communication is the key to making this happen, and less than a third of workers (29%) say they have a good understanding of their organisation’s values. “Involving employees in the values creation process will certainly help to make them more meaningful and integrating values into people management processes and the way people do their jobs will also help to ensure values matter,” research advisor Claire McCartney said.

Related story:  Consistency essential in all disciplinary action

  • Meip on 13/11/2012 2:27:28 PM

    Interesting, In my public service agency poor performance and behaviour has been rewarded on numerous occassions with massive redundancy pay outs. This leaves high performing staff with a bitter taste in their mouths. All too often managers are expected to performance manage when they do not have the skill set or the inclination. Poor performance and behaviour is on both sides of the equation.

  • Bernie Althofer on 14/11/2012 11:32:36 AM

    Performance management processes, appraisals, discussions and the implementation and application thereof continues to be a topical issue.

    Recent decisions show the importance of compliance with organisational policies in areas such as performance management and related policies such as security, social media etc.

    In some cases, there may be significant gaps between the process that is required to be followed and the process that is implemented. When this occurs, individuals can develop perceptions and practices based on what they is 'permissible' in the workplace.

    Providing people at all levels with a detailed knowledge of the performance management systems and processes is critical.

    Those involved need to have a detailed knowledge of how the process works, how the organisation collects and manages data collected through the process, and importantly, the legal implications of non-compliance or non-conformance.

    It seems that when communication is reduced in the equation, and workplace practices 'encourage' the taking of short cuts, then it is possible for various allegations to be made resulting in costly litigation.

    It is also important to provide interactive or face to face training for all those involved so they can test their understanding. Interactive training also allows individuals to practice role plays, respond to quizzes, and to engage with those around to clarify personal understanding.

    Unfortunately, when people are not provided with practical examples and practice on how to manage and respond to the complexities of workplace relations issues, including psychological issues, then the system may flounder with devastating results.

  • Harriet Stacey on 14/11/2012 10:08:19 PM

    I'm in favour of advertising internally the outcomes of disciplinary investigations - this view will go against accepted practice of keeping these things private but I firmly believe that the only way to influence other staff about what is wrong and what is OK is to publicise the consequences.

  • Bernie Althofer on 15/11/2012 11:10:35 AM

    Confidentiality issues seem to limit the amount of information that can be used to promote an action, reaction and consequence model.

    Promoting the outcomes of investigations is possible if identifying features of the parties is removed. For example, it should be possible to word it along the following lines - a male/female worker made an allegation that a manager/coworker (as the case may be) did (nominate the alleged behaviours). The matter was investigated using internal/external investigators. The allegations were found to be substantiated. The following penalties were imposed (nominate them) (and it could include training).

    The general communication should be reinforced by the CEO along the lines that staff will be supported when they make allegations, all allegations will be investigated, and that any form of counterproductive behaviours will not be tolerated.

    Unfortunately, confidentiality may result in a range of rumours circulating about what did or did not happen, and this may impact on whether or not reporting allegations or incidents will be treated seriously.

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