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Liar, Liar: Tips for addressing dishonesty in your Middle Tennessee business

How honest are your employees?

Do you honestly know?

Dishonest actions like stealing, covering up mistakes and lying on résumés occur in businesses throughout Middle Tennessee every day.  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.

As a responsible manager, it’s up to you to uncover underhanded activities.  Deceitful employees rarely walk around announcing their surreptitious behaviors, so keep your eye out for the subtle indicators that an employee is being dishonest.  Here are a few tips to proactively protect your business:

Warning Signs of Dishonesty at Work

Periodically spot check time sheets, 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)
  • 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
  • Repeating phrases or questions (to stall for time)
  • Speaking more deliberately and slowly than normal – or talking too much

How to Approach a Dishonest Employee Constructively

  • Address work-related dishonesty.  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.
  • Get 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.
  • 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 Middle Tennessee staffing and recruiting service.  That’s us!

As their employer of record, Wood Personnel screens all temporary workers and is responsible for handling honesty issues.  Want to know more?  Call one of our Nashville staffing experts today.