Badmouthing, arse-covering and bluff are main unethical behaviours in workplace

devils-dictionaryA new report from the Institute of Leadership and Management reveals the most common unethical behaviours displayed by employees in the workplace. Unsurprisingly they form a catalogue of low-level, generalised obfuscation, bluff, blame-shifting, bullshit and outright lying that will be very familiar to many people. The three most cited unethical behaviours according to the survey of 1,600 managers are cutting corners (72 percent), lying to cover one’s own mistakes (72 percent) and badmouthing colleagues (68 percent). People are, unsurprisingly, also prone to pass the buck when they miss deadlines (67 percent), cover up for the mistakes of colleagues (63 percent) and pinch low value items from work (52 percent). The ILM claims in its ‘The Truth About Trust’ report that these behaviours arise from a miasma of misunderstanding of what might be considered unethical behaviour, although equally they could just be things that people do if they think they can get away with them.

In an interview with HR Magazine, ILM chief executive Charles Elvin claimed that ‘a lack of clarity around what constitutes acceptable behaviour is one of the main drivers of unethical behaviour in the workplace.”A clear values policy and examples of what will not be tolerated will help to overcome this issue,” he said. “Unethical behaviours can also be a signpost of wider issues in the workplace such as excessive workloads, blame culture and a lack of trust. Some examples of this include pressure to deliver leading to cut corners and fear of consequences leading to people covering up mistakes. Companies with a strong ethical code enjoy the highest levels of trust both internally and externally allowing them to attract the best talent, the most faithful customers and the most reliable suppliers. High trust among your key stakeholders means that your business is much more likely to be able to weather any difficult market conditions.”

Last week the CMI published a report which considered related issues of trust, ethics and company performance producing a similarly clouded picture.

The top ten bad behaviours witnessed in the workplace as reported by the ILM survey are:

  1. Cutting corners – 72 percent
  2. Lying to hide your mistakes – 72 percent
  3. Badmouthing colleagues – 68 percent
  4. Passing the buck (when you don’t get your work done) – 67 percent
  5. Slacking off when no one’s watching – 64 percent
  6. Lying to hide other people’s mistakes – 63 percent
  7. Taking credit for other people’s work – 57 percent
  8. Taking a sickie – 56 percent
  9. Lying about skills and experience – 54 percent
  10. Taking low value items from work – 52 percent