What is Counterproductive Work Behavior (CWB)?

Definition of Counterproductive Work Behavior (CWB):

A counterproductive work behavior, or CWB, is any employee behavior that undermines the goals and interests of a business. 

What are some examples of counterproductive work behaviors? 

Counterproductive work behaviors come in many different forms, but can include tardiness, theft, risk-taking, fraud, sexual harassment, workplace bullying, absenteeism, substance abuse, workplace aggression, or sabotage. 

These types of behavior not only impact the quality of work produced by the employee engaging in CWBs but also can negatively affect the productivity of other employees in the company and create undesirable risks for the employer.

Why does evaluating counterproductive work behavior matter during hiring? 

Specifically, behavioral tests and integrity or honesty tests can help employers mitigate risk related to CWBs by measuring conscientiousness, rule adherence, attitudes towards theft, and overall reliability.

In general, employers should seek to hire individuals who are less likely to engage in any counterproductive work behaviors, and some pre-employment tests can help assess the likelihood that an individual is more prone to CWBs. 

Letting CWBs go unchecked can result in an unproductive or toxic work environment. When it comes to more serious counterproductive behaviors, like sexual harassment, bullying, and aggression, there are potential legal issues that arise for an organization if they aren’t properly mitigated.