How to Reduce Counterproductive Employee Behaviors

Facility managers must develop and reinforce positive workplace environments.

If you are in a position of management, counterproductive workplace behaviors can become a hefty problem. They range from the mildly severe (cell phone use on the job) to the downright dangerous (violence against others). But if managers are armed with solutions to reduce instances of counterproductive employee behavior, then the work environment can improve dramatically. The following guidelines can assist facility managers in combating this problem:

Identify the ethical orientation of each job candidate. A simple written exam could suffice. For example, when hiring individuals who will be working face to face with the public, ask questions pertaining to integrity and honesty. Additionally, when checking references, actually call those listed instead of simply reading a letter of recommendation. By speaking with prior employers, a facility manager can gain insight into applicants' past behaviors.

Understand employee perceptions. Creating a work environment with fair and equitable policies while also treating employees with respect will engage employees' involvement. Positive staff perceptions often hold the key to thwarting counterproductive workplace behavior throughout an organization. However, it is important to remember that employees may not always voice their feelings. So observing body language and other behavioral signs is important.

Be a role model. When policies and procedures are implemented within a facility, those in power need to follow the same rules. For instance, if a health club manager asks his or her employees to limit the number of personal calls they make or take per day, then a supervisor needs to do the same. If the operation requires eight-hour shifts, then a supervisor should work an eight-hour shift, too.

Be innovative. Let employees have a say in their day-to-day work activities, when possible. If employees perceive ownership in their job responsibilities, they tend to have positive perceptions. When feasible, change up their daily routines, so work does not become tedious. Challenge them with new projects or encourage them to improve the work they currently produce.

Be assertive. Without losing your temper, combat counterproductive work behaviors assertively. Make it clear that a positive work environment is paramount to the success of your facility, and maintain that authority. Employees who consistently engage in counterproductive behavior prefer managers who do not fight back. If you keep quiet, the unwanted behavior will persist and may even escalate into dangerous situations.

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