Context for challenging inappropriate behaviour

The introduction to this Toolkit emphasises that all FRS are committed to creating a work environment where every employee is treated with dignity and respect. At times, this may involve individuals addressing inappropriate behaviour through open and honest dialogue, or giving feedback. The challenging inappropriate behaviour section contains tools to support employees with these conversations. 

Addressing any inappropriate behaviour as it occurs can promote: 

  • Open communication 
  • Continuous dialogue 
  • Mutual respect 
  • High levels of engagement and motivation 
  • Improved individual and organisational performance 
  • Increased employee well-being 
  • Reduced sickness levels 
  • Creativity and innovation 
  • High levels of commitment and trust 

The impact of inappropriate behaviour 

Any behaviour that is offensive, discriminatory, bullying or harassing should be reported or challenged, whenever possible, in the moment. This may include: 

  • Using an anonymous reporting system 
  • Emailing Human Resources (HR) 
  • Contacting a line manager 
  • Giving feedback to the person displaying the inappropriate behaviour  

This Toolkit provides you with tools to support these actions. 

The impact of inappropriate behaviour, particularly if left unaddressed, can have far-reaching consequences for both individual employees and FRS. 

Impact on Individuals

Experiencing or witnessing inappropriate behaviour in the workplace may lead to:  

  • Low morale and decreased well-being  
  • Emotional distress 
  • Increased levels of stress  
  • Presenteeism (being at work but not fully functioning) 
  • Increased sickness absence  
  • Negative impact on personal relationships outside work  
  • Low work performance and motivation  
  • Increased employee turnover 

Impact on the fire and rescue service

Inappropriate behaviour affects not only individuals but also the whole FRS, which could lead to:  

  • High employee turnover  
  • Poor organisational performance and reduced output 
  • Poor workplace culture 
  • Lack of innovation and motivation to improve 
  • Lack of trust on the part of staff 
  • Reduced quality of service 
  • Negative impact on reputation, which may affect:  
    • Future recruitment and the ability to attract talented individuals 
    • Public trust in the organisation  

Reflecting on the causes of inappropriate behaviour

Everyone working in FRS should have a firm understanding of the behaviour expected of them. However, it is not always possible to identify what causes someone to behave inappropriately at work. Having an open and honest conversation and giving feedback to an individual who has shown inappropriate behaviour may help them understand the impact of their behaviour. It may also help identify any coaching, learning and development needs.  

In some instances, inappropriate behaviour may be caused by issues affecting someone at work or at home. If you identify that the behaviour is out of character or suspect that it is being influenced by other factors, you should encourage the individual to speak to their line manager, their safeguarding team or a HR professional for support. 

It is important for everyone to reflect on their own behaviour and how it might be viewed by others. The person displaying the inappropriate behaviour may not mean to cause upset or harm. We can all say the wrong thing in the wrong way or be clumsy. However, it is important to consider the impact this may have on others and commit to learning from it, in order to foster an inclusive working environment.