What do icebergs and your company's behavior have in common?

When it comes to behavior within your organization, think of illegal actions as the tip of the iceberg. Illegal behavior accounts for the 1-3% of bad behavior that rises to the surface and is often perceived as a relevant threat to the organization. But what lurks below the surface? What about the other 97-99% of bad behavior? It may not be illegal, but inappropriate behavior can result in a substantial drain on an organization and is potentially more costly than you think. Here’s why:

The cost of bad behavior

Inappropriate behavior runs the full gamut from rude and unprofessional up to bullying, and it has far reaching impacts on an organization. Sometimes the behavior is obvious, sometimes subtle. Either way, when left unaddressed, most often bad behavior escalates over time. It ultimately makes for a stressful environment that leads to increased absenteeism, decreased morale and productivity, and higher turnover rates.

The damaging effect

The level of damage bad behavior inflicts on an organization is astonishing. How does this happen? Simply put, managers and employees look the other way. Although 95% of employees are aware of inappropriate behavior in the workplace*, they don’t know how to deal with it effectively, so they just ignore it. Companies are guilty as well. Many times*, companies are not aware of what lies below the surface until it escalates into a claim.

Solving the problem

How do you mitigate that risk? Training, and more specifically, behavior-changing training that puts your managers and employees in simulated business scenarios so they can learn and react in a safe training environment. As a result, employees and managers will know how to recognize and deal with inappropriate behavior so they can effectively resolve the situation. Ignoring bad behavior only fuels the problem. Changing the behavior will not only mitigate the legal and financial risks, but it will also help foster the kind of culture that results in a more productive, engaged, and dedicated workforce — one that is focused on driving business results.

*SOURCE: The Cost of Bad Behavior, Pearson and Porath, 2009

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