When your small business recruits staff, not even the most rigorous interview process can tell whether the person is as ethical as they appear to be. 

While most of your workforce may be honest, there are always going to be the few that engage in unethical behaviour.

Here are 4 common unethical behaviours in the workplace…

1. Theft

Theft is alarmingly common in small businesses. It often involves nabbing low-value items like stationery, but can be anything from stealing petty cash to large-scale embezzlement. No small business can afford unnecessary financial losses and incidents of theft should be dealt with immediately. 

2. Misuse of company resources

According to the 2018 Ethics At Work Survey, 56% of Australians consider it acceptable to make personal calls during work hours. Many employees also see no problem in photocopying personal documents, using the company’s PC to send personal emails, and some even pirate software.  

3. Deception

Whether it’s passing the buck or pulling the sick card to get a day off work, some employees are hardwired to lie if they think they can get away with it. Deception is tricky. Without proof, there’s little you can do about it. Monitor the employee until you have tangible proof that they can’t refute.  

4. Cyberloafing

Cyberloafing refers to employees who use the internet at work to browse personal websites and check social media. One study found that 56% of people check social media at least 10 times a day for 10-20 minutes. That’s why another study found that 44% of CFOs consider employees’ use of social media in the workplace one of their biggest concerns. 

The impact of unethical behaviour on a small business

Consistent unethical behaviour impacts a business’s resources and productivity. It’s harder for a small business to absorb the losses associated with these acts than a large enterprise. In the case of unethical behaviour towards customers, such as lying about a product to make a sale, it can also damage your company’s reputation.

You will never fully eliminate unethical behavior in the workplace, but you can reduce it by having policies in place to address it and by increasing employee engagement. An employee that’s invested in the company’s success is less likely to abuse its resources and time.