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Lying on the Job in CT: How to deal with a dishonest employee

If this post was about lying DOWN on the job, it would be much simpler to write.  I’d just direct you to an earlier post on productivity tips for CT employers and call it a day!

But, unfortunately, lying on the job – covering up mistakes, fabricating employment histories, even stealing – is a very real and troubling issue across the country.  And while you might be reluctant to admit it, your very own workers could currently be engaged in dishonest behaviors – costing your company money, damaging its reputation and making it vulnerable to litigation.

Deceitful employees rarely walk around announcing their surreptitious behaviors.  As a responsible manager, proactively look for the subtle indicators that an employee is being dishonest.  Here are a few tips for uncovering underhanded behavior:

Warning Signs of Dishonest Behavior at Work

Spot-check timesheets, invoices and billing records. Dishonest employees may pad time records so that they can get paid for work not actually performed.  Likewise, if they have strong alliances with your vendors, they may create invoices for work a vendor never performed.

If you suspect an employee with a drug or alcohol problem, be on the alert for telltale signs like frequent sickness, lying, lateness, absenteeism, and shabby appearance.

Look for nonverbal cues. Police, academicians, and intelligence training specialists have developed a list of subtle, non-verbal behavioral cues that often indicate if a person is being dishonest.  These include:

  • Looking you in the eye for too long (on average, people who are telling the truth make eye contact only about 60% of the time)
  • Repeating phrases or questions (to stall for time)
  • Sitting very still – or moving only a single body part (i.e., a bouncing knee, a twitching hand or frequently touching the face)
  • A flash of surprise or anger which is suppressed quickly
  • Speaking more deliberately and slowly than normal – or talking too much

How to Best Approach a Dishonest Employee

  • Limit your scope. Only approach employees if their dishonest behavior is work-related. If an employee lies about personal matters unrelated to the job, you may have a problem to deal with, but it’s probably not one that should end in termination.
  • Make sure you have proof. Gather the facts in writing if possible. Check computer logs, entry card data, security video and whatever other objective tools you have at your disposal. Carefully observe the behavior of the suspected liar – and ask other employees about the situation if you can.  Never, however, blindly accept one employee’s word over another.  Even if you trust the other employee more, you could put your company at risk of a lawsuit if you discipline an employee without proof.  Be sure to gather evidence legally, respecting privacy laws.
  • Address the issue head-on. Once you have proof, schedule a face-to-face meeting with the employee.  Tell him or her that you are aware of the dishonest behavior.
  • Always impose consequences. If you do determine that your employee has lied, you must take action.  Depending on the severity of the dishonesty, consequences can be in the form of a stern verbal warning, a note in the employee’s file, formal probation or worse.  And if the situation calls for notifying authorities, do so immediately. Failure to follow through sends a message to your office that lying is okay, and it may leave you open to a lawsuit by other employees (or by customers, shareholders, or investors if money is involved).
  • Learn from the experience. Make sure you understand what caused the dishonesty in the first place.  For example, was it entirely the employee’s fault, or did your corporate culture make the employee fearful of the consequences of honesty?  Knowing why dishonesty occurred may help you prevent future incidents.

When it comes to temporary staff, the best way to avoid dishonest workers is to work with a leading Connecticut staffing and employment agency.  That’s us!  As their employer of record, A.R. Mazzotta thoroughly screens all temporary workers and accurately presents their skills and experience.  Want to know more?  Contact one of our CT staffing experts today.