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The issue of misconduct among employees is becoming a chronic problem in many organizations. Control systems like the codes of ethics do not seem to have an effect as reports of inappropriate actions are often reported. Researchers from the past have stated that personality traits, gender and stages of moral development influence misconduct. They have also stated that organizational contexts like leadership, code of ethics, culture and management influence misconduct. There are a number of terms that describe unethical behavior in companies like violence, passive aggressiveness such as harassment, bullying and assault.
Another type of research has also stated that employee misconduct has a limited range of unethical behaviors related to corporate wrongs that are often highlighted in the media. Employee misconduct can be due to pressure from meeting set deadlines and can therefore be differentiated from the other forms of organizational wrongs by limiting it to behaviors that employees indulge when performing their duties and don't have the intentions of doing wrong to the other parties of the organization. It relates to how people should carry out themselves in the light of professionalism for doing business. (Buckley et al, 2001)
HR and its management system can put too much emphasis on the employee's attention on achieving one goal and very little attention on achieving other goals resulting to misconduct. Employee misconduct is time to time subjected to the media attention and violates social expectations under the cover of self-interest and greed. Public exposure of an employee bad behavior may ruin the organization's goodwill to its important parties. Both organizational factors and individual factors contribute to misconduct and therefore cross level analysis is of essence when conducting an investigation of the organizational and individual analysis.
Performance criteria are put at reasonable levels and employees choose privately the ways in which they intend to meet their deadlines and goals. It is important how employees perform under various performance appraisals and compensation practices.
HR practices contribute to employee misconduct and some types of compensation practices can make misconduct occur at an individual level. Rewards given to those who are involved in misconduct attract more employees who are indifferent attitude towards it. Performance appraisals that only consider the end result and little attention to the behaviors can cause information imbalance between the supervisors and subordinates. Supervisors may have very little information of how their subordinates achieved their goals since it is not a requirement that they find out employee behavior and give a feedback during appraisal. Subordinates can therefore take advantage and engage in questionable practices as long as they produce the desirable results.
Various types of compensation can increase employee misconduct without knowing it since they only target at rewarding best performed individual not considering that misconduct may have led to the performance. If there is a bonus of an employee's salary of 10 to 15% on his or her base salary annually, it may lead to motivation of misconduct. The greater the pay for performance, the more likely the employees will indulge in misconduct. Within individual incentive plans, various design features could lead to increase or decrease likelihood of employee misconduct. These pay incentives may be continuous or discontinuous and if continuous it means that the performance levels and amount of incentives have a direct linkage.
In a discontinuous incentive, the linkage to the performance is in such a quota. If no platform is attained then no incentive is provided to the individual.Both types of incentives are perceived to make profits of misconduct attractive but discontinuous incentives is more likely to encourage misconduct than continuous incentives. The more an employee gets close to the platform, the more they are attracted to misconduct so that they achieve the required level of performance. One may be involved in a very serious misconduct that will help in performance at a later period.
It is important to realize that rewarding influences organizational dynamics and at the same time individual behavior since it can strengthen or weaken the organizational culture. Rewarding is linked to symbolic legitimating of misconduct. Legitimating is concerned with appropriate actions in an organization meaning that the perspective labeled as misconduct is constructed socially to be desired. Legitimation is also seen as a way to justify actions that people act and wish to train their actions within an organization and therefore a justification for misconduct that a supervisor endorsed in. Employees who are involved in misconduct are most likely to justify themselves that their actions were good for the organization. Incentive systems are used socially to come up with managerial support of misconduct.
Performance appraisal is under performance management because it states performance standards and then evaluates employees based on those standards. Many decisions in the administration are determined by the performance evaluation and have a direct impact on the individual's job security, pay within the organization, status and future employment opportunities. Fear of being caught among the employees may cause them to maintain a high level of discipline. Supervisors have a great impact on the conduct of their subordinates but it is possible for the subordinates to hide information about themselves for the administration.
Supervisors may have difficulties in monitoring performance because spans of control have been on the increase in many organizations because of mergers, acquisitions and electronic communication that allow supervisors and their subordinates to be in operation in many different geographical regions. Even with the reasons for information imbalance, greater information imbalance reduces the employee perceptions of being caught at their misconduct. Therefore it is very important to know how HR practices affect the information imbalance.
Classifying performance appraisal is based on how the job performance is assessed and it can either be outcome based or behavior based. Behavior based systems deal with evaluating employees on the basis of how well they do their jobs. Observation scales and behavior anchored rating scales are used within these systems. These measures require that the feedback have enough opportunity to see the one rating and judge him or her fairly. Therefore a supervisor is given a motive to carefully look into about an employee so that he may attain enough information to produce during evaluation. When a supervisor is assigned the work of observing employees, most likely their perception of misconduct is high.
On the other hand, outcome based appraisal systems are more concerned with evaluation of the outputs of the job performance without taking the behaviors into any considerations. Performance outcomes are evaluated on the basis of quantity as well as the quality of the performance. Management-by-objectives (MBO) is a good example of an outcome based performance relying on mutually agreed upon goals that become the procedure that an individual is evaluated. These systems are attractive to companies that do not have the opportunity to monitor closely the behaviors of employees when accurate behavior is not there. Employees may also prefer this system since it avails discretion of how they achieve their goals.
A HR configuration of appraisal that can have misconduct implications removed from the interdependence that occurs between the performances outcomes of the supervisors and the subordinates. This structural issue suggests that it's important to include the performance of the supervisors and of the subordinates to ensure that there is maintenance of goals across levels in the organization. The third approach of the performance appraisal function is about the types of people involved in the assessment of performance. It acknowledges the presence of information asymmetry between the supervisors and the subordinates because supervisors have very limited opportunities to really observe their subordinates in their many work environments and may not even understand the performance of the job itself. In order to deal with this gap, the supervisor should be well equipped with enough information about the subordinates even if it will require gathering it from multiple and diverse sources and as well understand the job itself.
In summary, the architecture of HR performance management systems is linked to rational choice theory as factors that determine the organizational routines associated with misconduct. I suggest performance appraisals that are outcome based and that rely on the supervisors as the main assessors of the subordinates' performance and also have their performance closely linked to theirs. This paper has several contributions on employee misconduct and HR management and it moves beyond generalize ideas on how reward systems determine employee misconduct and that some HR practices are likely to increase the employee misconduct.
I would recommend that having multiple evaluators for the performance appraisal procedure would be very important to reduce the information imbalance between the supervisors and the subordinate. Supervisors should also scrutinize high performers together with the low performers on how well they perform their job indicating their behaviors. There should also be the use of pay incentives based on reliable measures for outcomes and behaviors. The pay incentives should be a mix across the organization performance levels instead of the exclusive use of individual incentives.
Buckley, M. R., Beu, D. S., Frink, D. D., Howard, J. L., Berkson, H., Mobbs, T. A., & Ferris, G. R. (2001). Ethical issues in human resource systems. Human Resource
Management Review, 11, 11âˆ’29