Workplace Deviance definition

Workplace deviance refers to deliberate, malicious attempts to sabotage an organisation by causing problems in the workplace. It’s normally split into two spheres: interpersonal deviance, which attempts to sabotage relationships through activities like gossiping, lying and apportioning blame, and organisational deviance, such as lateness or theft of equipment.

Employee silence is seen by some as workplace deviance although the boundaries are unclear – silence that is purposefully designed to harm the organisation may be considered deviant, although it’s important to consider the reasons behind the silence as to whether it’s malicious or not.

The psychological contract is an important part of whether workers engage in workplace deviance. Research suggests that employees form a psychological contract with their employer based on their expectations of the workplace and the job. If the worker believes they have been treated unfairly or that the employer is not meeting their expectations, they may perceive the employer to have breached the contract. This perception of mistreatment can drive workplace deviance.

As with many forms of negative workplace behaviours, ensuring organisational justice is one of the most effective methods organisations can use to reduce the incident of deviance, although this will be less effective when the deviance is driven by factors unrelated to the worker’s professional life, such as personality or stress in the personal sphere.