In any workplace, despite the number of employees, there are instances of employee misconduct. As a manager, you cannot hide from it when it happens. You must deal with it consistently, fairly, and quickly. It is critical to workplace morale that you manage this problem properly. Otherwise it will cost your company in both time and money.

There are several forms of employee misconduct and we can only cover a few here. First, an employee can be disruptive and disturb others in the same work area. Commonly, this takes the form of employees who are comedians and spend more time being funny than doing work. Such employees claim they are having fun to make it a better place to work. An example, of course is the standard “horseplay” where employees carry out inappropriate physical antics. Physical antics by one employee can endanger the safety of his or her colleagues or be seen as harassment and puts the company in a tricky position if it is not dealt with.

However another, more recent problem involving misconduct, is with the use of e-mail and instant messaging. Employees like to e-mail and instant message jokes around the office. But some employees get carried away and spend much valuable time sending that perfect tidbit of humour. Big problems arise from these types of disruptions especially when left unchecked. Other issues arise when one or more of the recipients do not find the joke funny or are offended by it. Occasionally, this leads to an employee making a complaint about the colleague or company. Both situations cost the business time and morale can be affected.

Besides disruptive behaviour, employee misconduct occurs when an employee is abusive or refuses to follow directions. Their personal behaviour may make everyone around them uncomfortable and may even create a hostile work environment. Sometimes these employees have a following of other workers who are just as abusive and insubordinate.

Another type of employee misconduct is when the employee has excessive absences either excuse or unexcused. Typically workers do not expect much from these employees and everyone is demoralised because of it. Usually other employees have to pick up added work so the work gets done, leading to inefficiencies.

And lastly there is the employee who is criminal. This employee steals property, takes money, or actually bodily harms others.

In any situation of misconduct, finding out exactly what happened is the first action you, as manager, need to take. Sometimes, exactly what happened is hard to decide because other employees may be too afraid to speak about it or conflicting accounts prevail. However, you must endeavour to get all the facts. If you dismiss an employee for any particular misconduct, your process and documentation must be up to scrutiny. This means talking with the employee accused of misconduct, carrying out a thorough investigation and following a robust disciplinary process.  Always remember to give the employee the right of appeal against any outcome.

If left unattended, misconduct will quickly demoralise the other employees you supervise. While everyone reacts differently, your top performers are usually going to be your first casualties of demoralisation. Most importantly, always keep your ear to the ground since employee misconduct can damage your business.

If you would like to find out more about how to deal with any employee misconduct, give us a call on 01736 339 384 or email