Are Your Employees ‘Really’ Honest? Do You ‘Really’ Know For Sure?

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Author David Towler

How do you know if your applicants are really trustworthy, honest people?

Thankfully, most of us are honest by nature but this isn’t always true of everyone. Dishonest people aren’t always as easy to spot as we often like to think. Many of us have made errors in judgment regarding someone’s reliability and trustworthiness – and lived to regret it.

Business owners should be especially concerned about the honesty of their applicants. The repercussions of employee fraud can result in serious (and sometimes legal) consequences; to say nothing of the damage done to one’s reputation. Employers can be particularly vulnerable, especially when employees have access to customers’ homes or personal information.

Employee Theft Is Common

A case in Winnipeg Manitoba that occurred just this week illustrates how common employee theft is and how difficult it can be to identify it easily. A 54 year old home care worker who had been employed for 18 years was caught on spy camera stealing cash from an 82 year old client’s purse. It had been going on for six months and before being caught, the employee had stolen $1,100.00. It cost the client $500 to buy the surveillance equipment used to catch her. The employer was, apparently, blissfully unaware of the problem. How likely is it that this client was her only victim? How many other clients has this employee stolen from over the past 18 years?

• In another case, a 37 year old personal support worker was arrested for stealing jewlery from a 92 year old home health care client.

• A 26 year old home care worker took advantage of a 72 year old man and was charged with embezzlement.

• A “45 year old…a former home health care provider, admitted in open court that she stole jewelry from the wife of an elderly patient who was in her care.”

• In England, a “care worker who stole almost £1,800 from an 82-year old man at a nursing home has been jailed for six months” and admitted to taking the client’s “bank card and PIN and using it to withdraw cash and charge goods.”

• In the USA, according to one report “Medicare loses nearly $78 billion a year to fraud in its payments to doctors, hospitals, medical suppliers and health care providers.”

A Google search returned all of these results. All but one of these incidents occurred in 2014. Those who employ people in service industries or whose employees have opportunities to be with clients while unsupervised for long periods of time, should be particularly concerned. Uncertain economies, cost of living increases and high employment rates are all factors that contribute to employee theft. It is likely to get worse and not better. As Baby-Boomers age, more and more of us will be relying upon the services of home care workers and opening our homes to them.

How Do You Protect Yourself And Your Customers?

Many organizations rely upon criminal background checks when hiring. Unfortunately, these are not just expensive and time consuming, they will only identify people who have a criminal record but not those who have yet to be caught. Without proof, no prior employer is likely to be foolish enough to disclose their suspicions when providing references for an applicant. This leaves hiring managers at a distinct disadvantage and makes it easier for dishonest applicants to ‘hide’.

Still not convinced? Consider this, in one study, when asked how much cash or merchandise they had stolen in the past three years, only 82 percent of people said they had not stolen any cash and only 52 percent said they had not stolen any merchandise. That means that at least 48% of people stole something.

Some people question whether such a thing can actually be measured accurately, if at all. Yes, it can. Although there is way to guarantee that you won’t hire an individual with a broken moral compass, there are accurate and reliable ways to legally screen your applicants for desirable qualities like honesty. They’re also inexpensive and often able to be administered online.

Honesty ‘testing’ has been around for many, many years. There are a variety of well-regarded and proven assessments available to employers who want to avoid hiring someone else’s rejects. Those rejects are out there. They have also been to many interviews and know how to present themselves favourably. If you aren’t assessing your candidates’ honesty, then you’re taking an unnecessary risk by hiring them without that information. An in-depth explanation of honesty testing and psychology, provided in layman’s terms, may be found here. In a nutshell, dishonest people believe that they’re ‘normal’ and that everyone thinks like they do. Therefore, they’re more likely to be ‘honest’ about how dishonest they actually are when being tested. It’s actually amazing to note how often dishonest people will self-report.

Some tools will do more than just measure honesty. Some will include things like risk avoidance, customer service aptitude, tenure attitudes, willingness to be supervised, drug use, aggression, dependability and rule following tendencies. (Note, Canadian employers can’t use tests that include drug avoidance scales due to Human Rights legislation.)

Some of the tools available to test for honesty include the:

• Applicant Potential Inventory
• Applicant Review
• Applicant Risk Profiler
• Canadian Personnel Selection Inventory
• Counterproductive Behavior Index
• Employee Dependability Profile
• GIOTTO Test of Personal Integrity
• Personnel Selection Inventory

Creative Organizational Design offers each of these tools, along with 100’s of others, to help employers accurately assess the attitudes, aptitudes and skills of their applicants or current employees. With over 30 years’ experience, we can help you find the best assessments for your individual needs. Please visit us online to see the options available or contact us directly at your convenience.

David Towler is the President and owner of Creative Organizational Design. He has a vast, in depth knowledge of assessment tools and employee testing products. His company also produces customized employee attitude and engagement surveys and customer service surveys. He is an expert on testing and has clients around the globe.

Re-printable with permission.