Dealing with Conflicts of Interest in the Workplace

I recently read with horror about employees at a North Carolina restaurant serenading a group of police officers with a foul-mouthed rap song degrading these customers.

I’m sure most of my readers who saw that story shook their heads and thought, “Who thinks that is considered acceptable behavior?”

Many executives I work with are realizing the younger the workforce, the less social interaction skills exist. Social interaction judgment is lost when you are used to communicating with an electronic interface. Trolling has become a pastime for some individuals on social media, and those individuals forget personal interactions are different. We are in an age where the awareness of acceptable face to face communication in the workplace is lost and will create conflict.

Conflict of Interest

How much will this location suffer because of the actions of these few employees? Once this became a national news story, the owner of the restaurant is thrown into a public relations nightmare not even of his making. Most small businesses are not equipped for this type of negative attention. What is going on here?

In a widely diverse workforce, a multitude of interests will exist. Business interests, personal interests, and customer interests will intersect. Today, people feel empowered to express their personal opinions, regardless of where they are. Protests for many different agendas are now as common as thunderstorms in the summertime.

What is your policy on conflicts of interest?

Each business should establish their expectations of customer interactions and employee interactions. Clearly inform your employees on your expectations of how you expect employees to conduct business. In the polarized climate we currently live in, we need to teach our employees, while on the clock, setting aside personal agendas is critical while serving an employer and customers. In fact, employees should be made aware that countless people have lost their jobs even when not on the clock for social media transgressions. Business are being forced to take a stand on employees’ expressed attitudes.

Make sure you have stated policies on how you expect employees to deal with irate customers, on dealing with customers you may not see eye to eye with, and with fellow employees with whom who you have a difference of opinion. Professionalism should be defined and become the minimum expectation of all employees of any organization.