3 Common Reasons Why We Break Rules

3 Common Reasons Why We Break Rules

No Trespassing

The old phrase “Rules Are Made to be Broken” can be pretty dangerous in an industrial environment. This following short list covers 3 of the most common reasons we hear for employees breaking the rules on job sites around the world.

Habits are Hard to Break

Put in the most basic terms, a habit is a shortcut we create for ourselves that says “when X happens, we do Y”. When we’re used to taking a certain type of action in a given situation, but are placed in a similar situation with different rules, we will break them merely out of habit.

Take, for example, newer anti-smoking laws that dictate a person cannot smoke less than 10 feet from a building’s entrance. A seasoned smoker may unintentionally break the law by lighting a cigarette immediately upon leaving a building, easily forgetting that the new rule is in place.

To help break “bad” habits, some employers take care to train their employees on new rules and procedures and coach them individually to ensure that they fully understand the new rules. While some habits are extremely difficult to break, support and education can turn an old habit into a distant memory.

To Save Time or Resources

Some people knowingly break rules when they become inconvenient. A previous blog post at The Safety Report outlined the story of an experienced restaurant cook who took a shortcut and suffered a minor, but pride-hurting injury. He later admitted that he was just trying to save time by not walking to grab a ladder to reach something on the top shelf of his kitchen.

This situation is not unusual. In fact, through internal research at TalentClick, we’ve found that certain people are hardwired to break rules they feel are unnecessary. While rules may seem arbitrary, more often than not, they are there for a reason. The trick is to make sure those reasons justify the extra work and that your employees are onboard.

If your company is experiencing a significant influx of these problems, you might want to look at the organization. If workers are consistently breaking rules and procedures they find difficult or time consuming, it may be time to revisit the need for such processes. You may consider a process management consultant to help trim the fat and remove obstacles to employee productivity.

Solidifies Your Individuality

In some cases, a person is placed in a job with little chance to express their individuality. Standardized uniforms, air-tight operational and safety procedures, and repetitive tasks tend to place certain types of people in situations they find extremely uncomfortable. This leads to lashing out and insubordinate behavior.

One employee that feels stiffled by his or her day-to-day responsibilities can cause a great deal of problems, from productivity and managerial challenges, all the way to creating an unsafe work environment.

Work teams that include fiercely independent people need to be either placed in roles that allow them to express themselves as individuals or be consistently reminded of the rules and procedures they must follow to do their job. From a job fit standpoint, we at TalentClick would like recommend the former. However, we also believe there is a place for every type of individual in any work team when managed appropriately. Realistically you have to make the call of what works for your team and available resources.

So Many Reasons

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the reasons people break rules. It does, however, provide a brief overview of how to look at different situations within your work team. When your employee breaks a rule, never assume you know the reason. Instead, dig deep and find out the root cause so that you can make sure it doesn’t happen again – or at least happens a whole lot less!

So the next time one of your workers breaks a rule, what are you going to do to prevent it from happening again?

PS: Learn how to close your top candidate and improve your hiring process after pre-employment testing.