I Found Out an Employee has been Doing Something Unethical but Not Illegal – Now What?

First, this has to stop right away. And second, it has to stop because you definitely don’t want this type of practice to be representative of your business – even if it is somehow benefiting your customers. (For example, cheating a manufacturer’s rebate.) Even if it’s small, the very fact that your employee has to do something that isn’t ethical makes it wrong. You already know this, which is precisely why it bothers you in the first place. Regardless, it can be very tempting to let certain instances slide. But, you must think about the possible consequences and repercussions should this go bad. So, let’s get into a few suggestions for what to do when you discover an employee is doing something unethical but no illegal.

Ethics and the Law

There’s no question that just because an act isn’t ethical doesn’t mean it’s necessarily illegal. After all, the law doesn’t deal strictly with morality. (Although a lot of laws are indeed based on standards of decent behavior.) Notwithstanding, you instinctively know when a practice isn’t ethical and just because there isn’t a direct on-point law, that doesn’t mean it’s all right.
The experts in leadership and management at Michigan State University emphasize that it’s important to consider who is involved with the situation when dealing with unethical behavior in the workplace. Is it just one person involved or are there several people connected to act? —Houston Chronicle Business Management
However, there could be illegality. What might seem to be mostly harmless could be against the law. Obviously, this is exactly what you should know. Take the time to research the subject and find out if there are legal issues – be they criminal, civil, or possibly, both.

How to Deal with Unethical Employee Behavior

If you learn that what’s going on isn’t illegal but is still unethical, you have some options. Unfortunately, none of them are particularly pleasant. But, your business’ integrity could well be at stake. Here are a few ways to deal with unethical employee behavior:
  • Arm yourself with facts. Before you act on the issue, be sure to have all the facts at your disposal. If necessary, write them down to become familiar. You’ll undoubtedly have to confront this employee and he or she will probably have at least a few justifications and/or excuses. So, be ready to counter and push back with the facts.
  • Talk with your employee. Speak with your employee and your HR leader. If your company doesn’t have such a department, just speak with him or her one-on-one. Be polite but firm. And, listen to what he or she has to say. They’re likely justifying their actions and it might be something that’s easily fixed.
  • Establish a new company policy. You may have to establish an entirely new company policy. Or, make adjustments to an existing one. Regardless, be sure that every single employee knows so this doesn’t continue.
What other suggestions do you have for dealing with this type of situation? Please share your thoughts and experiences so that others can benefit from your input! Interested in learning more about business? Then just visit Waters Business Consulting Group.

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