03/12/2012 09:51 GMT

British Businesses Are At Risk From Front Line Staff Behaviours, Finds Study

New research has revealed its not just companies' top decision-makers who can present a risk to a firm's reputation - front line staff could ruin your business too.

Following on from Kweku Adoboli - a relatively junior trader who cost Swiss bank UBS £1.4 billion in poor trading decisions - the findings from talent measurement firm SHL have revealed behaviours which demonstrate potential risk to a company's wellbeing.

Among these behaviours are a lack of teamwork, a lack of commitment and absenteeism, neglectful customer service, people who demonstrate a lack of compliance, and staff behaviour which suggests limited attention to detail.

To assist employers in spotting these character traits, SHL has provided Huffington Post UK with four killer phrases to keep an ear out for, which could indicate a risky employee in their midst.

These four phrases are:

“I've got lots of tough targets to hit, so I cut corners here and there to get the job done.”

"When I get the paperwork I just sign it. It's better than spending all day reading the small print."

"I try and get away with taking on the easiest tasks because it means I can get out early on a Friday afternoon."


"If I get a tough customer query it may take me all day to resolve it, so I just ignore it and hope the problem goes away."

SHL found that people believe the riskiest staff members are those in senior positions, but in fact, the risk level drops the higher up the career ladder you look.

On average, one in eight people globally pose a high level of behavioural risk to their organisation but only one in 15 executives posing a high risk, compared to one in seven for those working in mid-management roles.

There are some exceptions however; in certain industries the risk level of senior employees is higher than for employees at the coal face - travel and leisure managers have a behavioural risk level of 18.2% and oil and gas senior employees have a 16% risk, compared to a global average of 12.2%.

The biggest sector at risk from behavioural traits of its front line staff is the leisure and personal consumer goods, with telecoms and technology coming close behind - the least risky in terms of front line staff is the public sector.

Taking both executives and front line staff into account, the riskiest sector is telecoms, followed by consumer goods (heavy), and travel and leisure.

Mining, retail and the public sector are on aggregate the lowest risk sectors, in terms of employees' behaviour.