4 Things to Know About Deviant Workplace Behavior

woman discrimination at work

Deviant workplace behavior can be toxic to an office environment. It refers to actions that contravene the set organizational norms and can occur due to numerous reasons. For example, an employee may choose to slack off just to prove that he has been overburdened with assignments. Another one may start spreading falsehoods about other people to gain mileage or create animosity among fellow employees. Deviant behavior in the workplace can disorient staff by making them feel disrespected and unappreciated, which eventually affects productivity.

#1 Relation to five-factor personality model

The five-factor personality model outlines the five personality traits, which include extraversion, agreeableness, openness, neuroticism and conscientiousness. In relation to deviant workplace behavior, people with high levels of agreeableness – this refers to how people tend to interact with others – are less likely to be personally aggressive through intimidation, sexual harassment or rudeness. On the other hand, people who exhibit neuroticism, which is the tendency to develop negative feelings and thoughts, are less likely to slack off at work or engage in theft.

#2 Types of deviance

Deviant workplace behavior ranges from a production perspective, political, property to personal aggression. Using office phone lines to make personal calls as well as deliberately slacking off are prime examples of production deviance as they lead to a decline in productivity. Property deviance relates to stealing of company resources as well as sabotage, which causes the company financial losses in replacing the affected items. A supervisor or boss may be politically deviant by asking you to undertake duties that are not outlined in the job description.

#3 Deviant managers and bosses

If you are part of the top management, lead by example to set an office norm that hinges upon ethics. Managers or bosses, who engage in deviant behavior, set a bad example for employees who are likely to imitate such actions in the workplace. Carrying yourself negatively in front of workers will also soil the leader-employee relationship as your subordinates will lose respect for you. Examples of deviant superiors include those who misuse their powers to harass employees, such as, seeking sexual favors, talking rudely to your juniors or using company resources for personal gain.

#4 Effect on workforce

Deviant actions can impact the workforce at an individual level by psychologically harming the employee who is the subject of such behavior. Examples of psychological repercussions include anxiety, irritability, and anger, which – out of frustration – can spill into physical aggression. Sharp changes in cholesterol levels or blood pressure, as well as increased tension in the muscles, are physiological effects of deviant workplace behavior. Collectively, deviant work behavior ferments a hostile work environment where employees are demoralized, and teamwork is weak due to people having strained relationships with each other.

Deviant workplace behavior is not unique to any one organization and comes with various economic consequences. Many superiors ignore such behavior until it is too late to take any actions to remedy the situation. Efficient handling of this problem starts with the assessment of the root causes of such behavior. The way, you tackle the issue, may further instigate deviant behavior or cultivate growth of employees.