Office politics is unavoidable, but it's important to stop it spilling over into something more serious.
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Have you ever had to deal with rule-breakers in your business? According to our latest research, a third (33.2%) of UK employees admit to consciously ignoring the rules set out by their employer, with a further 37.6%revealing that they have lied to their boss in the past.
We spend a great deal of our time at work, so it’s unsurprising that some employees will hit a rebellious streak every once in a while. Although these offenders are not true of every workplace, it’s clear that some workers are knowingly acting inappropriately, and clearly aren’t afraid of the consequences.
But, whilst white lies may seem harmless, there could be bigger repercussions down the line. We often joke that rules are made to be broken, but if you want to do well in your job, and move ahead in your career, it’s best to keep it professional at all times.
Below, I explore some of the worst things that employees have done at work (as found in our research) and explain how you can stop this from happening in your workplace.
1. Don’t tolerate unprofessional behaviour
One respondent to our survey claimed that after things got so heated with a colleague – he threw a stapler at him in rage. While this could come across as harmless play fighting, what would you do if one of your team members was actually seriously injured as a result?
This behaviour is unprofessional and should not be tolerated in any workplace: at the end of the day you’re operating a business not a school playground. Have a clear outline of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and be sure that your staff know what will happen if they cross the line.
2. Let employees leave graciously – or don’t give them a reason to play up in the first place
Another respondent claimed that after putting up with an obnoxious boss for months, he placed his resignation letter on their desk with a knife and very calmly said ‘I found this in my back…I think it’s yours!’
While we all love these sorts of stories (and wish we had the guts to take such a scandalous approach) this is not best practice and could come back to bite your employee when they’re looking for a reference in the future.
Ultimately, there should never be a reason for this to happen in the first place: make sure your leaders are acting professionally and ensure that if someone does choose to leave your business, that they are able to do so in a gracious manner.
Don't let the situation get out of hand
3. Be flexible and urge honesty
We heard from another candidate that she was not allowed holiday (at a time when there was a heat wave in London). So in order to get time off to enjoy the nice sunny weather, she lied and said she needed to attend a funeral.
Lying in the workplace is not acceptable at any level, but this stems from the top. Creating a culture where your employees feel like they can’t be truthful is never going to work.
Be flexible with your staff: if they have good reason for a last minute day off, or there’s no reason why they can’t have a last minute day off – then let them! There’s no use being too strict: it will just make your workers want to rebel even more.
4. Promote fun in the right way
According to our findings, one candidate tried to play a practical joke on a colleague by putting a bucket of water on the staff room door, ready to fall on them when they opened it. However: it was his boss that actually ended up getting drenched…all over her new dress.
Having fun in the office is important – I can’t stress this enough. It helps to keep staff motivated and also demonstrates to them that you are rewarding them for hard work. But it needs to be the right kind of fun. Organising down-time for your workers is crucial: whether that’s after-work drinks or a company lunch, for example.
All in all, there will always be slip-ups in the office. And while some of these do make for funny stories, they can have a knock-on-effect on productivity and staff wellbeing. Operating a professional working environment is crucial, but don’t be too straight-laced. We are only human, after-all.