• 107328  Infos

Workplace deviance

    Workplace Deviance has become an instrumental component in the field of Organizational communication It can be described as the deliberate or intentional desire to cause harm to an organization More accurately it can be seen as the “voluntary behavior that violates institutionalized norms and in doing so threatens the well-being of the organization” (Griffin 2004)

    Reasons workplace deviance occurs

    Workplace deviance and psychological contract
    It is often the case that employees will create a set of expectations about their workplace People tend to make psychological contracts with their organizations When his or expectations are not meet the employee may “perceive a psychological contract breach by their employers” (Chiu)This “breach” of the psychological contract then presents a situation for potential problems particularly in the workplace
    Workplace deviance often arises from the worker's perception that their organization has mistreated him or her in some manner Employee's then resort to misbehaving or acting out as a form of obtaining revenge on their organization for wrong doing them Workplace deviance can be viewed as negative reciprocity “A negative reciprocity orientation is the tendency for an individual to return negative treatment for negative treatment” (Mitchell 2007) In other words the classic expression “an eye for an eye” can be a concept that some employees feel strongly about as a suitable approach to their problem Although what is critical in the understanding of employee deviance is that the employee perceives being wrong done whether or not actual mistreatment did or did not actually take place
    Workplace Deviance and Abusive Supervision
    Workplace deviance is also closely related to abusive supervision Abusive supervision is stated as the “subordinates perceptions of the extent to which their supervisors engage in the sustained display of hostile verbal and nonverbal behaviors” (Mitchell 2007) If abusive supervision is in effect retaliation can occur Mitchell also states that the deviance that occurs in the workplace can come about from the displacement of employees’ frustration or aggression about their supervisor and it unfortunately gets placed towards coworkers and the organization There are a few reasons that this displacement especially those towards the organization take place The employee may not always have the opportunity to display retaliatory behavior towards the specific supervisor and there may be fear from the employee to directly retaliate at the individual who he or she perceives at fault (Mitchell 2007)
    The experiences that employees have in the workplace are those that can essentially fuel the worker to act out or deviate Although much research has been conducted on how the perception of being disrespected is seen as one of the main causes for workplace deviance dissatisfaction has also contributed According to Bolin and Heatherly (2001) research has indicated that “dissatisfaction results in a higher incidence of minor offenses but does not necessarily lead to severe offense” An employee that is less satisfied with their work may become less productive as their needs are not meet These workplace experiences may include “frustration injustices and threats to self are primary antecedents to employee deviance” (Benner and Robinson 2003) It is also important to note that although workplace deviance does occur not every employee will engage in such deviant behaviors


    Workplace deviance can be expressed in various forms Employees can engage in minor extreme nonviolent and violent behaviors that ultimately lead to less productivity of an organization Interpersonal and organizational deviance are two forms of workplace deviance that are directed differently but continue to cause harm to organization
    Interpersonal deviance can occur at the workplace where misconduct behavior “target specific stakeholders such as coworkers” (Pulich 2004)The behaviors that may fall within this subgroup of employee deviance can include gossiping about coworkers and blaming coworkers as well These minor but unhealthy behaviors directed at others are believed to occur as some employees perceive “a sense of entitlement often associated with exploitation” (Pulich 2004) In other or words they feel the need to misbehave in ways that will benefit them the best
    However deviant behaviors that employees show are typically aimed directly at the organization often referred to Organizational deviance (Pulich 2004)Organizational deviance considers production and property deviance
    Workplace deviant behavior can be expressed is in the form of tardiness and being absent from work (Everton 2007) These behaviors have been referred by some researchers as “withdraw behaviors…such behaviors allow employees to withdraw physically and emotionally from the organization” (Everton 2007)
    Employee silence is also considered a deviant behavior in the workplace that falls under botth interpersonal and organizational deviance Employee deviance is “an employee intentionally or unintentionally withholds any kind of information that might be useful to the organization” (Tangirala and Ramanujam 2008) The problem is that if an employee fails to disclose important information it can potentially cause detrimental problems in the effectiveness of the organization as a result of poor communication
    A new form of workplace deviance has emerged throughout the years as the use of technology becomes a much bigger part of people’s lives Workplace internet deviance or “cyber loafing” has become another way for employees to deviate from their work (Zoghbi 2006) This includes simply surfing the web and doing non-work related task on the internet such as chatting on social networking site and other
    All these behaviors that deviant employees take part are those that ultimately have a negative impact on the overall productivity of the organization For this reason they fall under production deviance Production deviance is “behavior that violates formally prescribed organizational norms with respect to minimal quality and quantity of work to be accomplished as part of one’s job”(Pulich and Tourigny 2004)
    Some more serious cases of deviant behavior that are harmful to an organization fall under property deviance Property deviance is “where employees either damage or acquire tangible assets…without authorization”( Pulich and Tourigny 2004) This type of deviance typically involves theft but may include “sabotage intentional errors in work misusing expense accounts” and many others (Everton 2007) Other deviant behaviors can also be much more extreme involving sexual harassment and even at times violence All these deviant behaviors only cause the organization problems It can be costly when employees are not working efficiently yet they continue to get paid

    Reducing workplace deviance

    The relationships that employees have with their organization are crucial as they can play an important role in the potential development of workplace deviance Employees that perceive their organization or supervisor(s) as being much more caring or supportive have shown to have a reduction of such workplace deviant behaviors .It is significant that supervisors managers and organizations are aware and “assess their own behaviors and interactions with their employees and understand while they may not intend to abuse their employees they may be perceived as doing so…” (Mitchell 2007)
    Organizational justice and the organizational climate are also critical as the quality of the work experience can make a tremendous impact on how employees will behave at the workplace Organizational justice can be organized into three sub categories This includes procedural justice distributive justice and interactional justice Procedural justice is how the employee perceives the decision-making process Procedural justice on the other hand considers the actual decision that is made Interactional justice involves the perception of employees of the interpersonal relationships they have with supervisors and other authority figures of the organization (Harris and Ogbonna 2006) There has been research that has indicated that procedural justice alongside interactional justice has shown to be beneficial in reducing workplace deviant behaviors Employees that are considered and given an opportunity to be involved in decision making process at their organization will be less likely to act out as they their voice is valued
    Workplace deviance is a phenomenon that occurs often in several organizationsUltimately it is the managers and the organization to uphold the norms that the organization wishes to adhere to. It is the organization responsibility to create an ethical climate (Litzky 2006) If organizations have authority figures that demonstrate their values of ethical behavior it tends to create much healthier workplace environments As “research has suggested that managers’ behavior influences employee ethical decision-making”(Litzky 2006) Employees that perceive being treated respectfully and valued are those individuals that are less likely to resort to workplace deviance

    See also

    • Organizational communication

    • Organizational retaliatory behavior

    • Workplace revenge

    • Employee silence


    Bolin A. and Heatherly L . ( 2001) Predictors of Employee Deviance: The Relationship between Bad Attitudes and Bad Behaviors” Journal of Business and Psychology 15(3) pg 405
    Chiu S and Peng J. (2008) “The relationship between psychological contract breach and employee deviance: The moderating role of hostile attributional style” Journal of Vocational Behavior 73 (4) 426-433
    Everton WJ et al. (2007) “Be nice or else: understanding reasons for employee’s deviant behaviors” The Journal of Management Development 26 (2) 117
    Griffin RW and O’Leary-Kelly AM (2004) The Dark Side of Organizational Behavior Wiley New York
    Harris LC and Ogbonna E. (2006) “Service : A Study of Antecedents and Consequences” Academy of Marketing Science Journal 34(4) 543-599
    Hollinger , R. and Clark J. (1982)“ Employee Deviance: A response to Perceived Quality of the Work Experience” Work and Occupations 9 (1) 97-114
    Litzky BE et al. (2006) “The Good the Bad and the Misguided: How Managers Inadvertently Encouraged deviant Behaviors” Academy of Management Perspectives 13 (5) 91-100
    Mitchell M. and Ambrose ML (2007) “Abusive Supervision and Workplace Deviance and the Moderating Effects of Negative Reciprocity Beliefs” Journal of Applied Psychology 92 ( 4), 1159-1168
    Pulich M. and Tourigny L. (2004) “Workplace deviance: Strategies for Modifying Employee Behavior” The Health Care Manager 23 (4) 290-301
    Tangirala Subrahmaniam and Rangaraj Ramanujam (2008): "Employee Silence on Critical Work Issue: The Cross Level Effects of Procedural Justice Climate" Personnel Psychology 61 (2) 40-68
    Zoghbi P. (2006) “Fear in Organizations Does intimidation by formal punishment mediate the relationship between interactional justice and workplace internet deviance?” Journal of Managerial Psychology 21( 6), 580