Integrity Matters: The Effects of Unethical Employees in the Workplace

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Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong principles. People with integrity have their “moral compass” pointing due North. They understand that actions have consequences and that doing something “bad” results in an unideal situation.

What happens when the people you hire lack integrity?

Theft, lying, drug use, chronic absenteeism, and a disruptive workplace are some of the few consequences of hiring unethical people. Employees who behave badly take a constant toll on your organization in terms of turnover costs, workplace efficiencies, profitability and more.

Hiring just a few unprincipled employees can be extremely damaging for your company, and interviews alone are usually not enough to identify problematic behaviors in a potential employee. When it comes to choosing future employees, hiring managers and decision-makers should keep in mind the fact that avoiding a bad hire is just as significant as making a good hire. While picking the right employees is significant for company growth, the consequences of selecting the wrong person can be devastating.

The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM)  and CareerBuilder have found that an alarming 53-58% of job applicants misrepresent themselves in resumes and interviews. They also discovered that this occurs most in the Finance, Hospitality, IT, Healthcare, and Retail industries. Once these employees are hired, bad behavior can run the gamut.

Common side effects of hiring unethical employees include:

  • Abusing company property
  • Failing to arrive at work on time
  • Ignoring safety precautions
  • Lying or hedging on the truth
  • Missing work repeatedly
  • Mistreating other employees or having difficulty working with others
  • Resisting direction and supervision
  • Significantly underperforming
  • Stealing
  • Using illegal drugs prior to work, on the job, or after work

Shrinkage, including shoplifting, employee or supplier fraud, and administrative error, cost the global retail industry more than $128 billion dollars in 2013, with $42 billion lost in the U.S. alone, according to the Global Retail Theft Barometer study. The National Restaurant Association calculates that 7% of restaurant sales are lost through employee theft.

Questionable candidates sneaking past the screen:

Many organizations pay strict attention to establishing best practices for recruitment, screening, and hiring. However, traits involving low integrity are difficult to pinpoint. Undesirable candidates find their way into the workplace because problematic tendencies can escape notice until it’s too late.

An ability to predict a candidate’s behaviors around integrity-related issues early in the hiring process would certainly give a company a powerful competitive advantage in selecting and retaining top talent.

In addition to the time and effort involved in addressing a violation and letting go of the high-risk employee, the cost of turnover itself is extremely high. In fact, an analysis conducted by the Center for American Progress revealed that organizations spend approximately 20 percent of an employee’s salary when forced to replace that individual.

Integrity is important, it can cause many problems in the workplace if it is not checked before you make a hiring decision. Not dealing with integrity during selection can create an atmosphere of mistrust and erode confidence in management.

Learn how to identify potential problems before you hire by understanding the 7 Dimensions of Integrity. Read more in our whitepaper: The High Cost of Low Integrity.

What are you experiences with unethical employees? How important is integrity in your workplace?  What can you do to make a difference?

Leave a comment below!

High Cost of Low Integrity - White Paper

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