How To Deal With Misconduct In The Workplace

Workplace misconduct is broadly defined as the actions and inaction of an employee(s) that affect the business negatively. Usually, they are minor issues that can be handled easily, but sometimes, these issues could be serious enough to cause damage to the company. This is why the HR team and the management need to learn the best method to deal with official misconduct.

Some of the most common types of misconduct today are:

  1. Gross insubordination
  2. Theft
  3. Inappropriate use of phones, internet and office hours
  4. Inappropriate dressing
  5. Gossip and tale-bearing
  6. Bullying/harassment
  7. Use of inappropriate language
  8. Causing harm to, or endangering other employees
  9. Disregard of safety rules and regulations as well as company laws.

The process of dealing with workplace misconduct can be as simple as carrying out the appropriate consequence stipulated in the employee’s guide, or it could be as complex as having several interrogations and meetings due to the nature of the case. However, the steps detailed below are considered as standard and should be followed irrespective of the nature of the case.

  1. Treat all cases promptly: The more the reaction time, the more difficult it becomes to deal with a case. It is recommended that proceedings begin less than 24 hours after the misconduct happens or is reported.
  2. Document the entire process: The first reason for this is to have evidence for keeps if the employee(s) takes the case further (it has happened numerous times over the years). The other reason is to have a record for future references if a similar case springs up. Keep both hard and soft copies of documents and, if possible, make a video recording of each disciplinary session. There are some software that can be used to manage such.
  3. Arrange a meeting with the employee(s) involved: Send notifications to the employee(s) and leave ample time for the person to prepare whatever documents or defense that’s necessary. The meeting should be held in a comfortable place with no form of threat, visible or otherwise. This is in line with the stipulations of the treatment of employees.
  4. Gather all the case facts: Make sure to listen to the employee(s) involved and patiently gather every related fact you can. Also, keep open ears for seemingly unrelated events that may have a connection later. For this, you have to be really patient, open-minded, and firm to get everything you can. Encourage the employee(s) in question to be free and open, even if the person is guilty.
  5. Keep your goals in mind all through: The main goal is to correct misconduct as well as to change behavior. This should not be lost no matter how severe the case is. It is also not a time for a vendetta. For these reasons, the staff involved in the case should be objective and level-headed.

It is also important to reference the past records of the employee(s) when dealing with fresh issues. For example, it would be somewhat unfair to slam a hammer over an employee with years of good records over their misconduct. Dealing with workplace misconduct is a delicate process that must be handled with the greatest attention as the results will also affect the mood of other employees positively or negatively.

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