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Employee behavior can either help or hurt an organization. In this lesson, we’ll explore the definition of employee behavior, as well as employer expectations and some of the issues that arise in the workplace.


The term employee behavior, refers to the way in which employees respond to specific circumstances or situations in the workplace. While many elements determine an individual’s behavior in the workplace, employees are shaped by their culture and by the organization’s culture.Personal and corporate culture affect the way employees communicate and interact with one another and with management.

Additionally, an employee’s beliefs affect his or her ethics and sense of ethical responsibility.

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Influential Forces

Companies rely on employees to produce and deliver high-quality products and services. Employee behavior is impacted by a variety of forces, both internal and external, as they attempt to perform their job duties. Employers who are aware of these forces, and who are prepared to leverage or counteract them, can have a positive impact on the employee’s behavior. Below are a few of the forces that influence employee behavior:Positive environment: A critical, internal force that influences employee behavior is the actions of colleagues. Companies that can effectively build an internal culture that is based on mutual respect, teamwork, and support will attract and retain employees with good behavior.Technology: Technology is a significant factor that can have both positive and disruptive influences on employee behavior.

While technology can often help streamline processes and make work easier for employees, learning how to use new technology while remaining productive can be stressful. Factor in the rapid advent of technology, in general, and employers seem to be faced with an almost ongoing need for new training, process improvement, and documentation.Customer demands: Customer demands can be an external force that exerts pressure on organizations to continually stay ahead of the competitive curve. Employees must adapt to the changing needs of customers, the growing shrewdness of customers, and the heightened expectations that customers put on employee behavior.

Employer Expectations

One of the largest expenses to any organization is the cost of labor. Good managers work hard to set the expectations for each employee. This is done through:

  • In-service meetings
  • Monthly staff meetings
  • Annual reviews
  • Overall culture of an organization

Most employers expect their employees to work towards accomplishing the organization’s goals and, ultimately, its mission. Let’s look at a few examples of how a manager can set the right expectation of his or her employees:Connect: Leaders must show that they value their employees. Employee engagement is a direct reflection of how employees feel about their relationship with the boss. This connection can help set the right expectation for the employees.Contribute: Employees want to know that their input matters and that they are contributing to the organization’s success in a meaningful way.

When they are allowed to contribute, their behavior about the organization becomes positive.Collaborate: Great leaders are team builders; they create an environment that fosters trust and collaboration. A continuous challenge for leaders is to rally individuals to collaborate on organizational, departmental, and group goals. In turn, this builds the expectation of good behavior.

Employee Issues

Poor employee behavior can be destructive to an organization.

Negative behavior can spread quickly and lower morale, even in the best of teams. If left unchecked, this type of employee behavior can be devastating to an organization. Managers need to move quickly and responsibly to remove such threats.By addressing behavioral issues with employees, managers can help to modify their responses to certain situations. If the behavior is destructive, there may be consequences for the employee. These might include:

  • Letter of reprimand
  • Suspension from work without pay
  • Termination

Lesson Summary

Employees are shaped by their culture and by the organization’s culture. These influences affect the way employees communicate and interact with one another and with management.

Both internal and external forces can have a major impact on employee behavior, including customer demands, positive work environments, and technology.As the cost of labor is one of a company’s major expenses, employers expect employees to act in accordance with organizational policies and procedures. Because inappropriate employee behavior can have a destructive effect on an organization, management needs to act quickly to address negative behaviors in the workplace. Consequences for inappropriate employee behavior can include letters of reprimand, suspension from work without pay, or termination.

Learning Outcomes

Toward the end of this lesson on employee behavior, determine whether you can easily:

  • Identify the internal and external influences that can affect employee behavior
  • List the types of interactions that managers can use to set employee expectations
  • Discuss ways by which a manager can set forth employee expectations
  • Write down methods that can be used to address employee issues

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