Deviant Workplace Behavior: Negative Effects on an Organization

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  • 0:07 What Is Deviant
  • 1:33 Deviant Behavior
  • 2:10 Types of Deviant Behavior
  • 3:29 Effects
  • 4:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rob Wengrzyn

Rob has an MBA in management, a BS in marketing, and is a doctoral candidate in organizational theory and design.

Deviant workplace behavior can be a serious issue for any company. It has a wide range of impacts on the organization and needs to be understood and dealt with as it arises.

Defining What Deviant Means

When we think of the word 'deviant', there are undoubtedly all sorts of images that come to mind. The word, while having a specific definition, is really open to interpretation. It is important that, for this lesson, we look at the word deviant as any action that is outside the norm of what is accepted or expected by society.

From that perspective, I believe we all have a general understanding of what workplace behavior should be. Even if it differs from person to person, the general foundation is there. It is when someone goes outside of that generally-accepted perspective - say maybe stealing supplies for their personal use or intimidating a coworker - that their actions become deviant.

True, there are those individuals that are deviant, and the most heinous definition of the word could indeed fit them, but in the business environment, we look at the word a little differently. It is more focused on how individuals act in the office setting and how their actions disrupt or negatively impact the work environment.

A good example of this is your common, run-of-the-mill bully. Some of us, and hopefully not too many, have worked for someone that in an office environment was a bully. They pushed their opinions, intimidated people, worked by their own rules, and did not care who suffered in their wake. They were not a bully because they were dissatisfied with their job. It is more likely that is just who they are. They bully because they can, they like to, or they just don't know any other way to act. The same holds true for deviant behavior.

Deviant Behavior is a Character Issue

Every individual has an opinion about their job, and that opinion, to some extent, is what drives their level of job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The challenge with the deviant behavior is that it is not always focused on the satisfaction level present in the job. You see, a person could associate low job satisfaction with deviant behavior, and, to some extent, they could be correct. The issue is that, in many ways, deviant behavior is more inherent in certain types of individuals and comes out as actions that are not acceptable in society and the office. It could have nothing to do with job satisfaction, but how the person reacts to their environment.

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