10 Most Unethical Behaviour Traits Shown By Coworkers

Ethics are those values, principles or rules that we, as human beings, set for ourselves to live a better life. Ethics are a prerequisite for all aspects of our lives. Without these ethics there will be no moral code and the world will erupt into chaos.

Keeping that in mind, our profession makes a big part in our lives. So we can say that in our professional fields we need to be bound by some ethics or principles to keep ourselves and our colleagues in check. Yet, it’s a tale as old as time that there are always those who think they can shy away from these unspoken rules and suffer no consequences.

Be it a business, a nine-to-five or any other kind of job – it doesn’t matter whether you go to an office, a workshop or work remotely from the comfort of your home, workplace ethics are vital to building a successful career.

One of the basic reasons behind an organization's success is strictly abiding by moral codes. This is the reason why companies all around the globe embrace ethical practices and behaviour and asks their employees to do the same. It also helps to increase productivity and uphold integrity. It promotes goodwill as customers, clients and people in general trust those firms and/or individuals that strictly adhere to their principles.

Lies In Workplace

As our beloved character, Dr Gregory House from House M.D. once said, “Everybody lies.”

As hard a pill it is to swallow, everybody does indeed lie while at the same time everybody hates being lied to. It’s a paradox. It’s also the most detestable yet common unethical behaviour. 

Lying kills people’s trust in us, ruins relationships, and puts us and/or someone in trouble. It’s a bottomless pit of misery. Lying in the workplace is also the most common unethical behaviour at the workplace, yet not a single person can claim that they have never lied; either to their boss, peers, and juniors. A lot of employees start lying right from their Resume or CV – adding skills and experiences they don’t have to land a job.

Lying can be small scale: lying that you are sick to get a day off to go watch your favourite Avengers movie – or it could be large scale: lying about sales report so you and your cohorts don’t get fired. 
It can be a simple white lie or a vicious web of lies. It starts small and piles up into a big, stinky dump. Employees need to understand that lying about work will sooner or later get them in trouble. It leads to dire consequences where they can get expelled, fired or (worst case scenario) banned from the industry for life.
However, we must also understand the situation that led to an employee lying. If and when we catch someone lying, we must ask ourselves why our colleague felt the need to lie before jumping to conclusions. Is it a force of habit or are they afraid of something or someone? Whatever may be the case, treat the matter cautiously.

Deliberate Deception

Although quite a bit similar to the above-mentioned behaviour trait, deliberate deception is not just outright lying to someone on their face. It is the full package of lying, stealing and manipulation of facts and statements. It includes instances like taking credit for someone else’s hard work, taking sick leaves for no good reason, deceiving customers by misrepresenting the product or service to get the sale, sabotaging another person’s work or image… you get the idea. 

These sorts of deception cause long-lasting damage on many scales and there is no place to hide or no way to get out if caught in the act. Severe disciplinary actions could be taken against the perpetrators and it never ends well for all parties involved.

Verbal Harassment/abuse

Some employees, when provoked, cannot resist the urge to verbally harass a coworker or customer. Some do so while taking general workplace decorum in stride.
Using foul language, taunting, and being sarcastic are all forms of verbal harassment. Often time, extended exposure to such a person who verbally abuses everyone leads to long-term mental damage to their coworkers, more so if the said person is in a senior position. Many take one verbally abusive employee as an excuse to start behaving the same way. It negatively impacts the work environment and may even leave a lasting image on the firm’s overall image.

Sexual Harassment/abuse

Do I even need to begin how bad this one is?

Sexual Harassments are unwelcome acts or behaviour that are sexual, such as physical contact or advances; demanding or requesting sexual favours; making sexually offensive remarks; directly or indirectly sharing pornographic materials or any other form of unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

Many companies have implemented zero-tolerance policies for sexual harassment in and outside the workplace as this kind of behaviour by employees can and will tarnish the company’s reputation.


Usually conducted by senior faculty members, nepotism or favouritism is a sign of serious corruption in the workplace rather than just being unethical. Sidelining a hardworking employee who had worked for many years and who had contributed significantly to the company’s growth just so the boss’s lap dog gets the promotion. Another example is that the Manager was forced to give the vacant position to the Senior Manager’s brother-in-law instead of a qualified, and well-deserving candidate because his wife, (who just so happens to be a major partner in the firm) said so. Doesn’t sound like a place where you’d want to work, right?

And yet, it happens and it happens a lot more than you’d like to expect and I’d like to admit.

Undermining Company’s Policies

Most employers clearly state company policies against deception, coercion and illegal activities. They strive to convey an image of trustworthiness to their customers and employees. Yet, there are always those few bad nuts who are driven to go against the company’s policies to achieve their personal goals. 
This particular kind of ethical misconduct includes employees making promises that cannot be fulfilled, employees stealing to line their own pockets, employees not respecting the company’s set rules and boundaries because they thought going the other way will be more profitable, employees questioning company’s integrity openly in front of clients/customers, employees lying to clients/customers just to get things their way regardless of what company handbook describes etc. 


Some employees redirect company funds to their accounts, and some employees commit fraud with the company’s marketable goods and services, replacing quality products with counterfeits and later selling the same products elsewhere at higher rates, stealing extra notebooks, pens, files, clothing, food etc. for personal use. All of these come under theft and embezzlement. The person who steals from the company risks losing their job. It’s not just a matter of a few products or some extra bucks, it’s a matter f trust and integrity. Employee breaks the employer’s trust by stealing from them and often it leads to strict actions being taken not just against the guilty employee but the rest of the workforce as well.

Passing the buck

Coworkers who don’t pull their weight, those who shy away from taking on tasks and responsibility, and in case of a mistake, blame others instead of being accountable and rectifying the situation are often big hurdles not just for the leader but the whole team as well. It undermines morale, productivity and the sense of camaraderie and unity that is essential in the workplace. A coworker’s unwillingness to cooperate and inability to contribute to the joint goals of the team disrupts the workflow of the entire firm in one way or another.   

Taking Shortcuts

Employees getting creative and inventing ways to make the work easier are acceptable and often time appreciated. However, coming up with ways to evade difficult work completely and not being willing to take accountability for such acts is completely out of line. It’s a straight-out behaviour issue. It includes plagiarism, copy-pasting data and reports from other employees with similar tasks, and threatening coworkers to do your work for you. Oftentimes, shortcuts taken by coworkers might not even look as it sounds. For example, an employee might intentionally drag the work given to them so that they won’t be given more work, or so they can claim overtime payment. This sort of behaviour is highly unethical. 

Taking undue breaks

Slacking off when no one is watching, pretending to be sick to avoid work, taking excessively long lunch breaks or tea breaks, randomly leaving work without telling anybody for a long duration throughout and then as the clock strikes running home leaving the work incomplete. Coworkers are also often found standing in groups gossiping away while their workload keeps on piling until it's passed on to someone else. The list also includes daydreaming (unless that’s a part of your job), working on personal matters during normal work time, coming late to work or finishing the day early consistently and without reasonable justification… there is an endless number of ways for coworkers to take undue breaks and get out of doing their actual job. Makes you wonder why they even wanted a job in the first place. 

Employees taking undue advantage of breaks, and taking the time allotted for work to do anything but work, and that too for no good reason is a major issue. It breaks people’s faith in the claims of a healthy, helpful and friendly work environment.  


To keep it short, sweet and simple, implementing workplace ethics creates a positive workplace environment. It makes our work easier and strengthens bonds between coworkers and coworkers and employees and customers or clients. It leads to the firm’s growth. Just the same way, unethical behaviour by employees and management causes strains, disrupts the company’s growth and even damages the reputation of both the employee and the organization they are working for. Covering up such issues does more damage than good. Organizations should work on corrective measures for these problems instead of turning a blind eye towards the problem or passing on blames.  


Author Bio:

Name: Shalinee Banerjee

A 27-year-old writer from the small town of Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, India, pursuing Masters in Arts (English Literature) and has a passion for storytelling. Currently working on honing my skills as a novel writer and working on my first book, the title undisclosed at the moment. Loves reading and gaining knowledge and developing content based on my unique perspective of all the latest happenings around the



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