City Dweller: Reputation, Road Rage and Repercussions

Imagine investing oodles of time and money in developing a company brand and reputation over years and years, like we have at The Works Recruitment, only to find it jeopardised in a heartbeat by your employees’ behaviour. Look at what happened to ‘The Firm’ last month when Prince Harry’s conduct in Las Vegas compromised the Royal Family. Granted, it’s an extreme example, but it’s worth remembering that an employer has the right to monitor its people’s behaviour inside and outside of work and take action… so beware the pitfalls as it could end in disaster and even dismissal.

And, to be brutally honest, I agree. But then you knew I would say that! Regardless of rank or position in a company, we are, by virtue of the fact of being employed there, ambassadors for that organisation. Ok, ok I am not suggesting that employees at The Work Recruitment are tagged or monitored by (though I can think of occasions where a gagging order or just a gag would have been useful) but I am all for a company spelling out to its people exactly what is and what isn’t acceptable behaviour and conduct.

That’s the important part – knowing the boundaries AND STICKING TO THEM. Company policy should be as far reaching as limiting use of social media (and ideally examples of what kind of online behaviour outside work is unacceptable). There should be a clause stating what other kinds of behaviour outside of the workplace would be considered misconduct, although an employer cannot anticipate every possible situation.

“Employees must buy into the culture of the company to understand what kind of behaviour is  expected and acceptable,” says Judith Fiddler founder and CEO of Direct Law and Personnel, specialists in hands on HR. “The strict letter of the law is not enough anymore, there are elements of mutual trust and company culture that come into play.”

Recalling an example of where behaviour resulted in dismissal and a direct loss for the company, Judith refers to a case where the driver of a lorry for a waste disposal company entered into road rage with the driver of another vehicle. Road rage is unlikely to be listed in any company policies, but the incident occurred on a business park where he was collecting confidential waste. The other driver, angry at being sworn at, pursued the lorry driver and he was subsequently banned from re-entering the business park. The waste disposal company lost the contract for the whole business park. Had the company name not been emblazoned across the lorry, the outcome might well have been very different!

So if you’re simply wearing a t-shirt bearing your company logo for example, (like one of our staff at The Works Recruitment) just think about how you conduct yourself and if you enter into an altercation of any kind, it might well have repercussions for your employer. There are unprecedented numbers of surveillance cameras in society today and pretty much every hand held device has some kind of camera built-in ready to record and put you and your antics on You Tube. Conversations in social media environments, blogs and even emails are all retrievable and are indelible examples of behaviour.

Just remember then, it is perfectly ok and legal for an employer to investigate any behaviour that could bring a company into disrepute, but any action taken against employees must be reasonable. With that in mind, be good!

Craig Burton is a seasoned specialist recruiter of over twenty one years with and