How Your Employees’ Bad Behavior is Ripping You Off

According to Business Practical Knowledge, “Employee theft is defined as any stealing, use or misuse of an employer’s assets without permission.” These assets may include money, time, supplies, merchandise, company property or information.

As The Retail Doctor points out, there’s yet another way employees commit theft in plain sight. Take a look at the two examples below and see if you can figure out what it is:

Example #1

A man receives a recall on his Pacifica van–the ball joint on the front wheel could break with catastrophic results. He calls the dealer that same day to make an appointment. The man he talks to is Mr. Nice Guy, like all “Yes, we have the necessary parts,” and, “Yes, we can get you in on Monday.”

When the man shows up for his appointment, however, he’s promptly told, “I don’t know why you were told that. I’m pretty sure we don’t have the parts.” After several minutes of back-and-forth accusations, Mr. Nice Guy finally looks in the customer record and admits that they do have the parts after all.

The man never goes back to the dealership.

Example #2

A woman stops by the department store on her way home to pick up some cosmetics. Four sales associates stand around chatting while she waits to be rung up. After listening to their chatter for a minute or so, she asks who can ring her up. The employees begrudgingly break up the group and without a word, one of them slowly walks over to her register and waits silently for the woman to move over to her.

The woman does not go back to the store after this experience

How Bad Behavior is Ripping You Off

The US Chamber of Commerce reports that one of every three business failures is the direct result of employee theft.

While you may not associate bad behavior, as demonstrated in the examples above, with employee theft, the consequences of bad behavior are what’s really ripping you off, suggests The Retail Doctor. After all, you’re paying your employees to make sales, not stir up conflict, show customers respect not alienate them, and bond with your shoppers, not each other.

Whether it’s a standoffish sales associate, a chattery one, or an exceptionally rude one, bad-behaving employees directly impact the success of your company.

“The behaviors of employees in the workplace have a direct correlation to . . . its success. Typically, professional behaviors . . . elevate the status of the company, while poor or unprofessional behaviors have the potential to thwart productivity . . .  and create a poor public image.”

~ Chron

When your company has a reputation for unprofessional behavior, it is at a distinct disadvantage. Not only will it make it difficult to keep existing customers and attract new ones, but it could interfere with finding and retaining good employees. Plus, in an age where consumer opinions are widely shared via the internet, a company that has a reputation for poorly behaved employees— and the resulting poor service—will find out that the news of their reputation has rapidly spread.

According to a study conducted by Harvard Business School, a superstar performer–one that models desired values and delivers consistent performance—brings in more than $5,300 in cost savings to a company, while letting an employee with bad behavior go, delivers $12,500 in cost savings.

As a business owner, it’s up to you and your managers to ensure that you’re not only setting an example of model behavior but providing the necessary staff training and clearly communicating company policies and procedures, as well as holding employees accountable for their behavior and taking the necessary actions to deal appropriately with that behavior.


“The cost of incivility can run into the millions,” says Inc. Business operations, morale, and productivity all suffer as a result of bad employee behavior.

Worse still, though, is how employees who behave poorly view shoppers as nothing more than interruptions, pests to be dealt with, or something they deem as not worthy of their time. This bad behavior negatively impacts customer service levels, ruining your company’s reputation and robbing you of sales now, and in the future.

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Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and two small business e-books. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime. A graduate of Brigham Young University, she worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current writing position at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with small business owners.