It gets under your skin to see words you've seen elsewhere in an employee's report. In addition to landing you in legal hot water, plagiarism in the workplace creates an environment lacking accountability and cooperation. In addition to giving credit where it is due, proper referencing in business writing lets readers know where to go to get more information or to start dealing with an problem. For many, plagiarism is a shortcut; make it worth their time to cite sources correctly.
Define clearly what is acceptable and unacceptable in workplace writing. Create a short -- one to two page, for quick and frequent reference -- set of guidelines that let employees know when to cite a reference, how to cite it and why. Make it clear that you consider reports that do not follow these guidelines to be plagiarized.
Lead first by example. Your reports should be impeccably cited and referenced. Employees respond strongly to fairness; no anti-plagiarism drive will be successful if employees see it as a "do as I say, not as I do" directive.
Provide regular training in workplace writing. This should not feel like employees are being sent back to school, but a half-day seminar can help keep everyone on the same page and continuously improving their writing.
Provide employees with a reference management program such as Endnote, Papers or Mendeley. Many of these software programs also allow the storage and organization of references. You should also provide training in these programs so that employees can use them effectively. The easier it is to construct proper bibliographies, the more employees will do it.
Reward your team as a whole for everyone meeting your expectations for proper referencing. If everyone gets rewarded or punished together, they will be much more likely to police themselves rather than relying on your to micromanage.
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images