by Flex HR

Employee Behavior Issues That Lead To Big Problems

It’s happened to nearly every business. A difficult employee that creates problems for the workplace. At Flex HR, our HR professionals are witnessing more and more problematic behavioral types that are leading to major workplace issues. Organizations have definitely shifted their focus to inclusivity; however, this could absolutely be indicative of employee conflicts, harassment and other workplace violent acts in the future.




Behavior that creates, or has the potential to create, risk to the business or health and safety concerns of employees is simply inappropriate and unacceptable at any business and should be clearly outlined in the Company’s Handbook. These intolerable behaviors tend to spread like wildfire and lead to a plethora of issues such as decreases in performance, productivity, communication, employee commitment, and even a toxic work environment. Thus, causing an increase in turnover costs and even legal expenses. The various behavior concerns that business owners and management need to be aware of, create written polices for, and take preventive measures on are outlined below.


In the workplace conflict is inevitable. When you have a group of people that all have different personalities, work motivation, process, goals, and beliefs, a clashing of opinions is going to happen. Some typical conflicts tend to be one of: gossip, communication problems, interpersonal, leadership driven, task-based, unclear job expectations, or resistance to change.

Unresolved conflict issues continue to snowball into more serious problems. Developing effective conflict resolution solutions are an important component for building, trust, good company culture morale and overall, employee retention. Conflicts can often lead to positive changes when resolved properly.


Flex HR defines harassment as unwelcome or unreasonable behavior that demeans, intimidates or humiliates people either as individuals or as a group.


Workplace bullying is a form of harassment that is targeted, health-harming behavior toward one or more employees that is spiteful, offensive, hurtful, mocking or intimidating. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, more than 76million workers in the United States are affected by bullying. There are 4 main types of bullying:

  1. Verbal – slandering, ridiculing or maligning a person or his or her family with persistent name calling that is hurtful and humiliating.
  2. Physical – pushing, shoving, kicking, poking, tripping, assault or threat of physical assault, damage to a person’s work area or property.
  3. Gesture – nonverbal gestures that can convey threatening messages.
  4. Exclusion – socially or physically excluding or disregarding a person in work-related activities.

Sexual Harassment – unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. There are actually different types of sexual harassment:

  • Quid Pro Quo, or something for something that typically those with supervisory authority hold over an employee.
  • Hostile Work Environment where there is intimidation or abuse that is unreasonable, usually repetitive (verbal or non-verbal) and can even be physical.
  • Sexual Favoritism, a form of hostile work environment by which favored treatment for submission and even unwelcomed sexual favors occurs.
  • Third Party is any person who observes someone being harassed or observes sexual conduct and is adversely affected may claim this sexual harassment.

Every manager, supervisor, or employee have an opportunity, or an obligation to report harassment. Any type of harassment must be reported immediately to management, who then reports the act to their HR professional. Jim Cichanski, Founder & CHRO for Flex HR says “the largest problem built into company cultures is the fear of employees going to HR or management to report a complaint. Many times, situations have gone untouched for 2 or 3 years before an employee lodges a concern”. We encourage companies to establish an Ethics Hotline where employees can state their concern anonymously.


Now more than ever, discrimination in the workplace has become one of the most talked about HR-related issues. Laws are in place to protect the workforce of a company, but sadly not all organizations are free of the hurtful behavior. Any discrimination issues, such as race, age, gender, disability, religion and citizenship, should be reported and stopped immediately to minimize the damaging effects to the workplace.

Clearly written policies on not allowing discrimination should be included in the handbook that each employee receives upon getting hired and then signs an acknowledgment of receipt.


1 out of 7 people don’t feel safe at work, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has recently reported. Sadly, isn’t too surprising given the increasing number of violent work incidents over the past couple of years. It’s critical for companies to make their employees feel safe on the job. This starts with the responsibilities of HR to identify their staff starting with the proper candidate screenings, including background checks, and getting to know workers on a more personal level to see the warning signs.

Establishing a zero-tolerance policy is the first step in outlining a workplace violence protection program. The Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 — more popularly called the “Guns Everywhere Bill” — clarified the rights of employers to ban guns on their property. Under the law, employers can prohibit the possession of firearms in company buildings and company-owned parking lots “as long as the employer is the property owner or has legal control of the property.” If owners want protection inside their facilities it’s highly recommended that a written policy authorizing an employee to carry a weapon be added upon the advanced written approval of the CEO or Owner.

Whether these rules are composed as a part of the company handbook or as its own separate policy, creating a prevention plan, identifying and defining workplace violence, recognizing warning signs, establishing an emergency response plan, and implementing a response team must be documented. For more information check out our previous article Preventing and Dealing With Violence In the Workplace.

HR’s Precautionary Role

Guidance and training managers are an integral role that HR professionals play to minimize the effects of difficult, and or disruptive employee behavior in the workplace. These challenging situations must be identified and acknowledged right away so that HR and upper management can strategize to formulate the best possible solution. Managers and supervisors must take all complaints of alleged behavioral concerns seriously no matter how minor or who is involved. Repeatedly, managers are very reluctant to ascertain the issues at hand and are unprepared to address the individuals involved. Organizations often decide to outsource these HR trepidations to a firm like Flex HR, that will provide superior HR representation to minimize the risk factors and carry out the proper protocol actions.

Communication and education must start from the top down, where management provides hands-on training and safety instruction to ensure all employees know the proper protocol given a harmful or dangerous emergency situation.

Preventative Measures:

  1. Behavioral policies – ensure your HR expert has clearly outlined and written all these behavior concerns down and identified policies and procedures in the Employee Handbook.
  2. Consistent training – ongoing, preventative training sessions will lay the foundation for company behavioral policies and expectations to be followed on a regular basis.
  3. Check in /Listen – to your staff and be aware of any unusual behavior that could lead to red flags of caution with an individual.
  4. Encourage team & culture building – activities between co-workers provide an opportunity to interact and recognize the various personalities and work styles of others.
  5. Employee Appreciation – make employees feel important by recognizing their good behavior and hardworking efforts.
  6. Keep a “paper trail” – document any, and all disciplinary actions and conversations so that there is evidence in an event of a legal investigation.
  7. Employee hotline – establish a hotline for your staff to safely, and even anonymously, get the help they need.
Did you know that Flex HR can host a webinar, seminar, or bootcamp on employee behavior issues? Send us an email at and mention you saw this article for more information. Flex HR provides Ethic Hotline Outsourcing. This makes employees comfortable that they are not talking to a workmate inside the office and perhaps feeling very uncomfortable doing so, but they can report a situation anonymously to seek the help they need.


Flex HR serves almost every industry in all 50 states, including Georgia, Florida, California, North Carolina, and Tennessee, as well as Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Canada and Europe supporting U.S. subsidiaries of foreign owned companies.

Our Flex HR specialists serve thousands of different organizations, in countless industries, varying from a few to over 75,000 employees.

To Learn More about Flex HR Contact Us.