Employee Conduct and Behaviour at Work

21 October 2020

You can’t overstate the effects of employee attitude and behaviour within an organisation.

Negative actions from one employee can make the whole team feel uncomfortable and even drive them to find another job.

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your staff. It’s important that you act if an employee is being disrespectful.

Types of employee behaviour to avoid

Unprofessional employee behaviour can describe many actions, including:

These are examples of gross misconduct. And are all types of employee behaviour you need to prevent.

Behaviours of engaged employees can vary from company to company. 'Acceptable' in one work environment might be disrespectful employee behaviour somewhere else.

Make sure employees are aware of what is ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ behaviour. This can help them to avoid potential issues. Be sure to remind them of that if their conduct becomes a concern.

Create a code of conduct policy for all your employees. Think about the types of behaviour you would consider unacceptable in your workplace.

For example, unacceptable behaviour might include an action that is unwanted by the recipient, creates a hostile or humiliating environment or can be considered offensive or humiliating for any individual.

Types of employee behaviour to promote

The behaviours of engaged employees will differ to that of those who aren’t committed to their jobs.

By basing a policy on the traits of engaged workers, you can hack how others think to create a more positive environment.

These types of employee behaviour can include:

  • Being collaborative and willing to help others.
  • Being reliable and responsible.
  • Offering ideas and new ways of working to improve processes.
  • Having a sense of urgency and priority.
  • Not being constrained by their job titles.

When creating an employee handbook, you should try to think of ways to turn these behaviours into actions that all employees can follow.

However, it’s also important to consider why employees aren’t engaged. A code of conduct can encourage employees to speak up and make sure that everyone feels valued.

Managing difficult employees and disruptive behaviours

Most employers have met at least one disruptive employee.

Avoid disputes by ensuring employees understand what behaviour is acceptable. But how do you manage difficult employees?

To start with, try to understand their point of view. It’s rare that an employee will be difficult on purpose.

An employee might behave in this way for a few reasons. For example:

  • Being unhappy in their role.
  • Facing difficulties at home.
  • Health-related issues, or undisclosed conditions impacting behaviour.
  • Problems with another member of staff.
  • Increasing stress levels.

Speak with the individual to find out if there is anything affecting their work that you can help with.

But don’t allow for that to excuse any behaviour that is impacting your other employees.

The Equality Act 2010 protects employees. Failure to act could see victims of harassment resign. Employers can also receive constructive dismissal claims.

Our HR and employment law experts advise on how to handle disrespectful employee behaviour with our 24/7 helpline. Call 0800 028 2420 or request a callback.

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