Pulling sickies, badmouthing colleagues, lying, cheating and stealing: British workers are behaving badly

Catherine Neilan
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They may look innocent in the glorious sun, but they are secretly planning to steal all your paper clips (Source: Getty).
How often do you pull a sickie? Less often than moaning about colleagues perhaps – but maybe not as often as you “borrowing” cheap items from the office?
It seems we can be a pretty bad bunch when it comes to our behaviour at work - and that's only what our managers see us getting up to. In fact, a study by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) describes unethical acts as “widespread”. And the really bad news is your manager has probably cottoned on.
But what are we most likely to try and get away with?
Almost three quarters of managers surveyed for the report said they had seen employees lying to cover their tracks. The same number – 72 per cent – said they knew people on their team were cutting corners.
Badmouthing colleagues was endemic – 68 per cent of managers had seen someone moan about another member of their team – while passing the buck was also high (67 per cent). Conversely, 57 per cent of managers said they had seen someone try to take credit for another person's work. Tut tut.
Pulling a sickie was slightly less common - reported by 56 per cent of managers – while 52 per cent said people were taking home “low value items” from work.
ILM chief executive Charles Elvin interpreted the results as a bad sign for businesses trying to prove their ethical credentials, claiming “even relatively minor misdemeanours, if left unchecked, can poison a workplace culture and bring down trust and ethical standards across the workforce”.
He called for companies to introduce a “clear set of values”, saying these organisations were 11 per cent less likely to experience unethical behaviour.
“Leaders need to set that benchmark by defining the types of behaviour that will not be tolerated by putting in place a clear ethical statement and leading by example,” he added.
So, how many of the top 10 behaviours have you engaged in – and how recently?
  • Cutting corners – 72%
  • Lying to hide your mistakes – 72%
  • Badmouthing colleagues – 68%
  • Passing the buck (when you don't get your work done) – 67%
  • Slacking off when no one's watching – 64%
  • Lying to hide other people's mistakes – 63%
  • Taking credit for other people's work – 57%
  • Taking a sickie – 56%
  • Lying about skills and experience – 54%
  • Taking low value items from work – 52%

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