Workplace lies


A little white lie may seem to be harmless, but studies have shown that lies in the workplace are a tell-tell sign that job satisfaction is low. Simply Hired conducted a study on the lies told in the workplace. Participants in the study answered questions based on their own workplace habits. The study divided the lies told by job level, gender, and frequency. Although a wide array of data was found, one fact remains clear. Employees who are not satisfied with the workplace are more likely to tell the worst kind of lies, and they are prone to lie more often.  How can employers and employee leverage this information?

Results of the study

The employees who lie the most are also the employees who have the least job satisfaction. Among employees who are satisfied with their jobs, rates of confessed workplace lies drop by more than 10%. Unsatisfied employees tell lies that can cause a financial or productivity loss to the employer. Satisfied employees are more prone to lie to their workplace peers about mundane matters. These types of employees reported lying about things such as outfits and hairstyles to spare the feelings of their co-workers. Unsatisfied employees reported lying to higher-ups more often. These employees lie about topics that are more likely to impact productivity. They call out for made-up reasons and lie about why they cannot reach a deadline. 

Among both groups of employees, satisfied and unsatisfied, the majority of employees did not report telling workplace lies more than once a week. If people are to be taken at their word, this study suggests that the average employee does not tell a workplace lie very often. Although a competitive company culture can lead a person to be suspicious of trusting coworkers, employees are more likely to lie to a manager than to lie to someone on the same tier of the corporate ladder. 

For employees

A person who finds themselves lying often in the workplace should give careful thought to what is causing them to feel the need to lie. Is it something that can be fixed? Although situations differ from office to office, many managers are open to changing procedures for employees who are productive. While no one wants to tell the boss that they have been lying, consider finding a way to present your concerns in a constructive, not critical manner. 

An employee might have made a habit of lying to cover up for not being able to handle their workload. Rather than lying about it, speak to your manager about ideas for making your existing workload more manageable or reducing your workload. 

For employers

Employees who are so unsatisfied with workplace conditions that they resort to lying are not likely to be loyal or very productive. If a manager discovers that employees are lying very frequently, it is important to consider whether the employees or the workplace conditions are to blame. Generally, a person only lies when they perceive that telling the truth will be dangerous or that there is some reward for lying. Statistically, employees who feel the need lie more often and more severely are less satisfied with their jobs.  Competent employees who are given enough training and compensation usually do not feel the need to lie. 

One of the most common reasons employees lie is to get time off. Vacation policies that allow a certain number of days off per year, rather than distinguishing between sick days and vacation days have been very successful in some business places. Other workplaces award paid days off on an accrual basis. For each hour employees work, they earn a percentage of an hour towards paid days off. Loyalty can be rewarded in these kinds of situations by awarding a higher percentage for employees who have worked with the company for a longer number of years. This gives employees an incentive to stick with the company for the long term. This gives employees the freedom to take days off when necessary, but it also discourages abusing that freedom because an employee who does not stick to the established schedule will not accrue enough paid time off to take days off without losing pay. 

The second most common group of lies reported in the study involve employees who are either hesitant to take on more work or give deceitful excuses for why they have not finished their assigned work. These kinds of lies are used to cover up problems with expected productivity. An employee who does not finish work of does not want more work is either being challenged too much or not being challenged enough. Both of these problems can be combatted through proper training. Although employees may enter a company with plenty of experience, do not neglect training them in the policies and procedures of a particular company. The learning curve of figuring out how to do things on their own can make even the most talented employee lose motivation.

These are only the two most common problems that lead to workplace lies. In a unique office setting, an entirely different root cause can be the culprit for workplace lies. Especially if dishonesty is becoming a widespread problem, management should have open communication with employees to identify strategies for eliminating the perceived need of the employee to lie. Lies sow seeds of distrust, which can impact workflow. Workplace lies are also a direct result of workplace dissatisfaction. It is in the best interest of everyone in the workplace to have an office culture that does not make lies seem to be necessities.