Judith Beck

Ditching booze key to limiting bad workplace behaviour

Careers expert and author of No Sex At Work Judith Beck shares her tips on limiting bad workplace behaviours and why after 5-drinks are not productive. | Financy

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What is our responsibility to report bad workplace behaviour or worse, workplace crime? My personal view is that if you receive knowledge of a crime then you have an obligation to report it.

After running two businesses and one for over 25 years,  if one of my employees did not tell me about an issue that put the company at risk or unethical, that would be grounds for dismissal.

A crime is a crime and by keeping information from your boss or not going to the police, you are withholding information about someone who could potentially commit that crime again – or worse.

There is no way I could control what someone did several levels down the line, however if an issue were to occur, it wouldn’t happen the second time as a process to prevent it would immediately be put in place.

So why are we hearing about so many bad behaviours in the work place these days?

Bad workplace behaviour has always happened, it’s just that today, news travels faster and people are more willing to speak up, even if it is a few years later in some cases. This will change as more people see others standing up for themselves.

What is the solution? We wont completely stop bad behaviour, but we can stop giving predators more opportunities to prey on vulnerable people. One is by not having company functions after work where alcohol is abundant.

Why don’t companies understand that this is a risk for them and their staff.

If the company is hosting and paying, they are responsible for what happens to their employees in that environment. And why do we feel the need to conduct work while drinking?

Wouldn’t it be more effective if we had a clear head, or is the idea to get the client drunk so they sign the deal?  More senior staff should also take an ethical responsibility to ensure younger staff are safe. I would also stop calling work functions – social events. If they are paid for by work – they are work.

Part of writing ‘No Sex at Work’  was to stress the need for companies to see employees as individuals not genders or other labels society has placed on them. Also for employees to see themselves as business people and what they need to do as a business person to get from A to B. The work environment has changed.

Inclusion and Diversity is here to stay and is good for society and business.  Women have often told me that after 5-work functions discriminate against those who have families and other interest – preventing them from attending. This makes them feel like they are missing out and others are getting networking opportunities not available to them.

In addition, some religions do not drink, so they may feel scrutinised by colleagues who are egging them on to have a drink. All these issues could end up being a financial risk to a company.

So why do it? Companies and Governments could save a fortune by cutting the alcohol bill from their budget; employees would be able to be home more, business would still get done and the work environment would become more inclusive. The cases of inappropriate behaviour would more than likely go down as a predator would be less likely to engage whilst in the office.

I love a wine or two, but I know as a business person that it is about the quality of your product or service and your company culture that makes a successful company – not how much wine you pour.

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