Ethical behavior pertains to the principles of morality based on accepted right and wrong conduct. When discussing the idea of unethical behavior, it is most common to focus on issues such as murder, abortion or cheating on one's spouse. The misuse of time on the job is unethical and is practiced by many, though it is often overlooked. When the misuse of time on the clock is discussed as inappropriate behavior, the attempt to justify the behavior is usually made. Though it is often done, unethical behaviors should not be considered more or less unethical than others. Because so many jobs are physically and emotionally demanding, the risk of burn out exists. Taking some time to refocus or to complete tasks that may distract you from work is far from being selfish. Therefore, no matter your profession, without appropriate relaxation and taking care of personal issues, problems may arise which may cause decreased efficacy on the job.
Misuse of time on the job is the sometimes referred to as employee time theft (Leviticus). Some of the most common misuses of time by employees are using the internet for personal use, making personal phone calls, running personal errands while on the clock and tardiness. Less often thought of as time theft is socializing with fellow employees. These types of misuse of time on the job can cause an organization to loose thousands of dollars in revenue yearly. Time theft affects not only profitability, but also productivity, morale and overall operations (Berglas).
In his article, "Chronic Time Abuse" in the June 2004 Harvard Business Review, Steven Berglas discusses the less acknowledged misuses of time such as chronic procrastination or perfectionism. Berglas links the problem of time abuse to questionable self-esteem and the fear of failure. Classified into four different categories; preemptives, people pleasers, perfectionists and procrastinators; Berglas asserts that the employees that misuse time often have conflicts with their coworkers which also affects morale and productivity.