Sex, drugs, and accidentally pressing “reply all” on that rude email you wrote about Jen — sounds about right for the Dallas offices in which author Richard Burton has worked.
A lawyer in the labor field for 20 years, who as seen just about everything scandalous office life can bring, Burton is sharing all of his gossip, and tips, in his latest book, Employees Gone Wild.
The Preston Hollow native thought about writing the exposé for years, after dealing with an executive that liked to hold meetings with female employees wearing nothing but a towel around his waist and other illicit workplace behavior.
“It’s a pretty wild and funny book filled with a bunch of extreme adventures,” Burton said. “Over the years, I’ve just seen dozens and dozens of accounts of employee misconduct and decided it was time to share.”
This is the author’s second book, but a real change from his debut novel, Godsent, a thriller recently put under contract to be made into a film.
“I’ve always enjoyed creative writing. This is just a compilation of my experiences. To have the chance to lay out all these funny stories was very satisfying to me,” Burton said.
Employees Gone Wild, full of workers’ flubs, doesn’t just give you something to talk about at the water cooler. His main advice: don’t mix work and play.
“I’ve seen employees going on Craigslist to post personal ads and an increase in people using and selling drugs from the office,” he said. “Employees just forget that when you’re on a work computer, they’re letting their employer see all of their Internet activity.”
Remember that this includes your phone, too, he said, as employers usually have access to images, web searches, and text messages. Another tip: never be afraid to speak up.
“I don’t believe in jumping over someone’s head. If it’s possible talk to the person you have an issue with first to get it fixed, go ahead and speak with them,” Burton said. “Otherwise don’t just sweep it under the rug. Go to your manager or human resources to make sure the problem is solved.”
STAY OUT OF TROUBLE
How to stay out of hot water as an employee:
- Leave your personal life at the office door.
“Always keep your personal life out of the workplace. With cell phones and Internet, it’s becoming much easier to bring personal emails, calls, and relationships into the office. That’s a lot of times where trouble begins. When you’re at work, you should only be doing work.”
- Honesty is the best policy.
“It never ceases to amaze me when people come up with lies about what was going on. If you find yourself in trouble and human resources or a manager comes to you with an issue, be honest. You have a chance to clear the issue up, but if you compound it with a lie, you definitely risk losing your job.”
“This one is pretty simple. Be respectful and act appropriately towards your coworkers. You shouldn’t say or do anything to coworkers that could be offensive or inappropriate.”
CLEANING UP THE MESS
How to handle employee conduct as a company:
- Lay down the law.
“Get a formal policy and procedure handbook and give it to every employee to sign before they start working. Then you can always go back to the expectations if a problem arises.”
- Keep an eye out.
“Put measures in place to be aware of what’s going on in the office and nip problems in the bud. Too often companies turn a blind eye or don’t take serious action until the second or third offense. Be proactive at the beginning before it mushrooms into something big.”
- Ask for help.
“Enlist the aid of lawyer if something criminal or extreme comes up. Sometimes companies try to handle crimes themselves, like embezzlement or theft. Don’t be bashful about enlisting outside legal assistance.”