Lying in the Workplace: How Common It Is and What Companies Can Do about It

boss at the office

Dr. House says it best: everybody lies. Even your most trusted employees might have done it at least a couple of times. But how often does this happen?

In his 2011 TED Talk, fraud examiner Pamela Meyer revealed that you might have been lied to as many as 200 times each day. The least is probably ten times. The workplace, though, could be full of lies for many reasons.

Note, though, that a lie isn’t always obvious, straightforward, or clear-cut. It can be as simple as saying that they already passed the report at 10:00 p.m. when they actually did it an hour after.

In the end, companies need to accept that they cannot accept 100 percent honesty from anyone, even to themselves. However, they need to know which lies are damaging or costly and identify the policies that will reduce or prevent them from happening.

Do They Lie on Their Resume?

Do employees lie on their resume? The answer is a big yes. In the data compiled by Ladders, at least 30% said something untruthful on their CVs or applications.

Meanwhile, Glassdoor revealed that about 50% of the staffing company knew somebody who lied on their resume, nearly 25% more than those in 2011. Nearly 55% of the managers believed some of the applicants are dishonest.

Ladders claimed that men tend to lie more than women, but their reasons are the same:

  • They often mislead or hide information about their education and work experience. This explains why those who finished only high school were 10% more likely to “improve” their resume than individuals who completed a college degree. Fortunately, employers can already minimize the effects of lying with employment verification services.
  • The survey also discovered a correlation between education and the tendency to lie. The latter seemed to decline the more educated the candidate is.
  • Often, those who lie do so to improve their chances of moving to the next phase of the application process, which is the interview. They may be better able to explain themselves if they get a shot to meet at least the recruiters.
  • Others lie because they want better working opportunities, such as a promotion. Meyer also cited intense competition in the workplace as a common cause to lie.

Nurture staffCan Employers Spot a Liar?

Despite fibbing being common in the workplace, managers or recruiters failed to detect 80% of employees who lied, according to Ladders. But it doesn’t mean companies cannot do anything to improve the statistics. Here are some ideas:

  • Conduct due diligence. Many businesses nowadays use employment verification services to help them. These teams confirm the work experience, education, and history of the applicants.
  • Utilize available tools. Business platforms, such as inventory management software or accounting systems, can be any company’s best friend. They provide data that liars will find a hard time refuting. Numbers, after all, usually don’t lie. They are what they are.
  • Watch out for different cues. Carol Kinsey Goman provides a comprehensive list of what to check when talking with someone who may be lying. These include incongruencies, body language, and the specific words they use.

Like everything else, catching a liar in the workplace takes practice and knowledge. The most important thing is that you can spot them quickly before they potentially damage the organization.

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