How to Define Ethical and Unethical Behaviour in the Workplace

employee's behaviour in the workplace
These are some examples of ethical and unethical behaviours in the workplace to help you analyse your employees' demeanour at work.
LinkedIn
Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp

There are many things that talents consider when choosing a company to join. The same goes for employees to decide whether to stay or leave. Although salary is on top of the list, employees tend to be more productive and happier working in an ethical workplace environment.

According to SHRM, an ethical workplace environment prioritises employee rights, fair procedures and equity in pay and promotion. Great companies promote tolerance, compassion, loyalty and honesty when treating customers and employees.

Workplace ethics are a set of values, moral principles and standards that both employers and employees have to obey. Generally, these are written in the book of conduct. However, some general workplace ethics are unwritten.

These are the common behaviours in the workplace that everyone must obey or avoid.

Ethical behaviour in the workplace

Ethical manners can increase employees’ performance, job satisfaction, loyalty and trust. 

Indirectly, it shapes your organisational citizenship behaviours (i.e. altruism, conscientiousness, civic virtue, sportsmanship and courtesy).

Here are some examples of ethical behaviour in the workplace:

1. Obey the company's rules and regulations

HR reminds employees on ethical behavior in the workplace

To obey commands is the simplest act of workplace ethics. Employees will receive a handbook that serves as a guide, listing the working hour, dress code, etc.

Sometimes, some employees get too excited when accepting the job and don’t read the guide. HR should remind future employees to read the rules and regulations carefully to avoid deferring them in the future.

2. Develop professional relationships

Whether you’re a startup, SME or multinational company, professional relationships are key. Good connections between colleagues, managers and downline reports determine how you respect and trust others.

It’s also vital for employees to maintain relationships with other professionals outside the workplace, such as investors, vendors, clients, potential clients and business partners. Not only does it reflects your professionalism, but also your behaviour in the workplace.

3. Practise professional behaviour

The way people talk, behave and treat others in the workplace should be professional. Shouting and cursing at others is unacceptable, even when feeling angry. Coming to work with a shabby appearance doesn’t look great and will cost the employee their reputation.

A professional attitude and ethical behavior in the workplace also translates to these practices: 

  • Delivering quality work on time
  • Asking for possible deadline extensions before starting the project (when necessary) 
  • Replying to the work emails or chats timely (during office hours)

4. Practise integrity, honesty, transparency

transparency and honesty as workplace ethics

Integrity is having strong moral principles and following them at all times. Even when nobody’s watching or you’re being pressured to do otherwise. Going over someone else’s files when he forgets to lock the screen and is away is unethical. It goes along with honesty and transparency. 

Honesty in the workplace is telling the truth even when you’re in a difficult situation. In business discussions or casual conversations with colleagues, bear in mind that being honest doesn’t mean one has to be brutally honest, resulting in embarrassment or others being hurt. Be honest, but be kind.

Transparency in the workplace helps employees to share ideas, have healthy debates and overcome difficulties as individuals or a team. As for companies, transparency is a foundation of a strong relationship with customers. 

The more transparent a company, the more likely customers are to trust its product or service. Hence, it’s crucial to practice workplace ethics. 

5. Accountability

Someone’s careless mistake or poor decision may cause trouble for the entire department or the whole company. In an ethical workplace environment, employees accept responsibilities made as a company, admit their mistakes to all affected and accept the consequences.

Unethical behaviour in the workplace

Unethical behaviour is any action at work that goes against the prevailing moral norms of a community. It creates a toxic environment and brings negative impacts to others. In the workplace, unethical behaviour can take multiple forms and have various targets.

Here are some examples of unethical behaviour in the workplace:

1. Misusing company time

playing phone in the office is considered an unethical behavior in the workplace

Misusing company time could be in the form of slacking during the working hour. 

They may be online shopping, watching movies, scrolling social media or covering for a colleague who shows up late.

2. Taking credit for others' hard work

Taking credit for your colleague’s idea or hard work will hinder them from getting a promotion, bonus or commendation for a job well done. It’s very easy for managers to take credit for their downline report’s work when reporting to the management. 

Once the employee finds out, they will feel demotivated and hesitate to share ideas that could benefit the company in the future. Hence, one should not conduct this unethical behaviour in the workplace. 

3. Abusive behaviour

Companies with an ethical workplace environment prevent abusive behaviour from happening. While office brawl rarely happens, verbal abuse often occurs. The perpetrator could be anyone, from managers, salespeople, to customer service officers. 

Someone may fail to meet the KPI for the second time, a client may be fussy or a customer may curse on the phone when complaining. No matter what the reason is, using abusive words towards colleagues and customers should be avoided.

4. Stealing from the office

an employee stealing resources from the office

Another unethical behaviour in the workplace is stealing. Things provided in the office should stay in the office and be used for work purposes unless stated otherwise. 

It’s ok to bring the company’s laptop home to work remotely or finish a report, but not the stationery. You can eat as many snacks or fruits from the pantry but never bring them home for your children. The same goes for office printers. They’re not for employees to print posters or flight tickets.

5. Extending the lunch break

Employees have the freedom to do anything they want during the lunch break. They can work out at the gym, go for interviews, catch up with old friends or work on their side hustle. 

However, sometimes employees take advantage of this freedom by extending the break. Some of the common excuses are traffic jams, long queues and sudden rain.

Also, there may be a colleague who’s always late or does online shopping during working hours. But, people tend to turn a blind eye to ‘minor’ unethical behaviour in the workplace. They want to avoid conflicts and are afraid of being perceived as a ‘busybody’. 

In short

Therefore, HR should remind all employees to re-read the handbook at least once every year to refresh their memory or conduct workshops about ethical and unethical behaviour in the workplace. 

For managers, address the issue right away when you see your downline reports do unethical behaviour (do it privately) to prevent them from repeating the same mistake. 

More To Explore

Man dealing with impostor syndrome at work.
Human Resources

How to Deal with Impostor Syndrome at Work

There are many types of people. Some people blow their own trumpets loud, although, in reality, they’re not as great as they think they are. There are some people with real, amazing skills who doubt their value. Have you ever felt your achievements are due to luck? Or are you not doing as well as

The money shown is too little to survive. To survive in the current economy, you'll have to learn ways to earn passive income
Human Resources

7 Ways to Earn Passive Income Without Quitting Your Job

News of recession starts looming closer and closer as we reach the second half of the year. With our inflation rate reaching 3.4% in June, even in a kampung or a small township, the cost of living has increased tenfold compared to what it was just five years ago. Food prices have increased so rapidly

They are a prime example of how to lead a sales team effectively
Company News

How to Lead a Successful Sales Team Effectively

Sales isn’t an easy job. I’ve been there. During semester breaks, I was a part-time salesgirl at various shops in a shopping mall. I took a telesales job soon after graduating (which I miraculously survived for a year). Working in the sales department was challenging. I was constantly anxious if I’ll get a deal or

Scroll to Top
[wpforms id="15980"]
<div class="wpforms-container wpforms-container-full wpforms-form-abandonment" id="wpforms-15980"><form id="wpforms-form-15980" class="wpforms-validate wpforms-form wpforms-ajax-form" data-formid="15980" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data" action="/backup-behaviour-in-the-workplace/" data-token="8626c0b2b723f967d3e8b504d46f1f8b"><noscript class="wpforms-error-noscript">Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.</noscript><div class="wpforms-page-indicator progress" data-indicator="progress" data-indicator-color="#9f45ff" data-scroll="1"><span class="wpforms-page-indicator-page-title" ></span><span class="wpforms-page-indicator-page-title-sep" style="display:none;"> - </span><span class="wpforms-page-indicator-steps">Step <span class="wpforms-page-indicator-steps-current">1</span> of 4</span><div class="wpforms-page-indicator-page-progress-wrap"><div class="wpforms-page-indicator-page-progress" style="width:25%;background-color:#9f45ff"></div></div></div><div class="wpforms-field-container"><div class="wpforms-page wpforms-page-1 "><div id="wpforms-15980-field_12-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-pagebreak" data-field-id="12"></div><div id="wpforms-15980-field_16-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-divider" data-field-id="16"><h3 id="wpforms-15980-field_16" name="wpforms[fields][16]">Company Details</h3></div><div id="wpforms-15980-field_3-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-text" data-field-id="3"><label class="wpforms-field-label" for="wpforms-15980-field_3">Company Name <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label><input type="text" id="wpforms-15980-field_3" class="wpforms-field-medium wpforms-field-required" name="wpforms[fields][3]" required></div><div id="wpforms-15980-field_5-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-number" data-field-id="5"><label class="wpforms-field-label" for="wpforms-15980-field_5">Number of employees <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label><input type="number" pattern="\d*" id="wpforms-15980-field_5" class="wpforms-field-medium wpforms-field-required" name="wpforms[fields][5]" required></div><div id="wpforms-15980-field_14-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-pagebreak" data-field-id="14"><div class="wpforms-clear wpforms-pagebreak-left"><button class="wpforms-page-button wpforms-page-next" data-action="next" data-page="1" data-formid="15980" disabled>Next</button></div></div></div><div class="wpforms-page wpforms-page-2 " style="display:none;"><div id="wpforms-15980-field_6-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-divider" data-field-id="6"><h3 id="wpforms-15980-field_6" name="wpforms[fields][6]">Contact Person</h3></div><div id="wpforms-15980-field_0-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-name" data-field-id="0"><label class="wpforms-field-label" for="wpforms-15980-field_0">Name <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label><div class="wpforms-field-row wpforms-field-medium"><div class="wpforms-field-row-block wpforms-first wpforms-one-half"><input type="text" id="wpforms-15980-field_0" class="wpforms-field-name-first wpforms-field-required" name="wpforms[fields][0][first]" required><label for="wpforms-15980-field_0" class="wpforms-field-sublabel after ">First</label></div><div class="wpforms-field-row-block wpforms-one-half"><input type="text" id="wpforms-15980-field_0-last" class="wpforms-field-name-last wpforms-field-required" name="wpforms[fields][0][last]" required><label for="wpforms-15980-field_0-last" class="wpforms-field-sublabel after ">Last</label></div></div></div><div id="wpforms-15980-field_7-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-text" data-field-id="7"><label class="wpforms-field-label" for="wpforms-15980-field_7">Job Title <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label><input type="text" id="wpforms-15980-field_7" class="wpforms-field-medium wpforms-field-required" name="wpforms[fields][7]" required></div><div id="wpforms-15980-field_9-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-phone" data-field-id="9"><label class="wpforms-field-label" for="wpforms-15980-field_9">Phone number <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label><input type="tel" id="wpforms-15980-field_9" class="wpforms-field-medium wpforms-field-required wpforms-smart-phone-field" data-rule-smart-phone-field="true" name="wpforms[fields][9]" required></div><div id="wpforms-15980-field_1-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-email" data-field-id="1"><label class="wpforms-field-label" for="wpforms-15980-field_1">Email <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label><input type="email" id="wpforms-15980-field_1" class="wpforms-field-medium wpforms-field-required" name="wpforms[fields][1]" required></div><div id="wpforms-15980-field_15-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-pagebreak" data-field-id="15"><div class="wpforms-clear wpforms-pagebreak-left"><button class="wpforms-page-button wpforms-page-next" data-action="next" data-page="2" data-formid="15980" disabled>Next</button></div></div></div><div class="wpforms-page wpforms-page-3 " style="display:none;"><div id="wpforms-15980-field_10-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-gdpr-checkbox" data-field-id="10"><label class="wpforms-field-label wpforms-label-hide" for="wpforms-15980-field_10">Agreement <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label><ul id="wpforms-15980-field_10" class="wpforms-field-required"><li class="choice-1"><input type="checkbox" id="wpforms-15980-field_10_1" name="wpforms[fields][10][]" value="By submitting your registration request, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy." required ><label class="wpforms-field-label-inline" for="wpforms-15980-field_10_1">By submitting your registration request, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. <span class="wpforms-required-label">*</span></label></li></ul></div><div id="wpforms-15980-field_11-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-pagebreak" data-field-id="11"><div class="wpforms-clear wpforms-pagebreak-left"><button class="wpforms-page-button wpforms-page-next" data-action="next" data-page="3" data-formid="15980" disabled>Next</button></div></div></div><div class="wpforms-page wpforms-page-4 last " style="display:none;"><div id="wpforms-15980-field_13-container" class="wpforms-field wpforms-field-pagebreak" data-field-id="13"><div class="wpforms-clear wpforms-pagebreak-left"></div></div></div></div><div class="wpforms-submit-container" style="display:none;"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[id]" value="15980"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[author]" value="7"><input type="hidden" name="wpforms[post_id]" value="6420"><button type="submit" name="wpforms[submit]" id="wpforms-submit-15980" class="wpforms-submit" data-alt-text="Sending..." data-submit-text="Submit" aria-live="assertive" value="wpforms-submit">Submit</button><img src="https://recruitopia.com/wp-content/plugins/wpforms/assets/images/submit-spin.svg" class="wpforms-submit-spinner" style="display: none;" width="26" height="26" alt=""></div></form></div> <!-- .wpforms-container -->