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How does your organisation handle inappropriate behaviour and integrity issues?

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

According to various studies, a positive and safe work environment leads to higher productivity and better flexibility among employees. In a pleasant work environment, appropriate behaviour that is acceptable to all employees is essential. Inappropriate behaviour can have a detrimental impact on the atmosphere within a department, resulting in reduced job satisfaction among employees. As an employer, it is important to prevent such issues, which are often only recognised when it's already too late.

Increasingly, news articles are appearing about inappropriate behaviours in the workplace. Wherever people interact, tensions can arise in relationships. The perception of what is considered acceptable or unacceptable behaviour varies for each individual, and everyone has the right to determine whether a boundary has been crossed or not.

Inappropriate behaviour includes (sexual) harassment, aggression, bullying, and discrimination. Not only is this harmful to the employees who have experienced it, but it also damages the organisation itself. Consider the costs of absenteeism, unnecessary turnover of personnel, and damage to reputation.

The Working Conditions Act (Arbowet) therefore requires organisations to develop adequate policies on inappropriate behaviour in order to provide a safe working environment for employees. If there are more than 50 employees, it is expected that employees have access to a Confidential Advisor.

In addition, integrity is a critical aspect for every organisation to consider. While the term "integrity" is commonly used in various job descriptions, it may not always be clear what it entails. Essentially, integrity entails conducting oneself with honesty and conscience, while adhering to the prevailing norms and values.

Integrity is not only an attribute that an organisation may expect from its employees, but employees should also expect it from their employer. A good employer trusts its employees, and in return, good employees reciprocate that trust. This fosters a positive work environment, especially when it is clear where one can turn to if there are suspicions of misconduct, such as fraud, theft, misuse of company resources, unauthorized side activities, or abuse of power.

This can happen at an individual level or can impact parts of the organisation, thereby damaging customers, employees, or citizens. These are misconducts that can be highly detrimental to the organisation. However, the consequences can also affect society, and in that case, it constitutes a societal misconduct. The Whistleblower Protection Act requires organisations with more than 50 employees to have an integrity policy with an internal reporting procedure. The Confidential Advisor is part of this policy.

Although it is not yet legally mandatory to have a Confidential Advisor, it is advisable to appoint one for the benefit of employees. Ideally one who is knowledgeable in both the areas of inappropriate behaviour and integrity, even in smaller organisations. An external Confidential Advisor can be a viable solution for both large and small organisations.

If you would like to learn more about how to handle inappropriate behaviour and integrity in your organisation, and how an external Confidential Advisor from Partners in Vertrouwen can support your organisation, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to brainstorm with you.

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