Whether you’re an employee or employed, this is something we all encounter. It’s the cheating employee. They’re the person who causes an equal amount of trouble for the boss and the co-worker.
Researchers Michael Baer of Arizona State University, Maureen Ambrose and Robert Folger of the University of Central Florida, Noel Palmer of the University of Nebraska-Kearney and Marie Mitchell of the University of Georgia took a look at cheating employees and wrote a paper called Cheating Under Pressure: A Self-Protection Model of Workplace Cheating Behavior.
Their paper was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology and concludes that cheating happens everywhere from the boardroom down to the lowest maintenance worker. You’ve seen the stories:
• Wells Fargo’s insurance and account scandals
• Volkswagon’s emission scandal
• School districts faking standardized test scores
• Researchers stretching facts
We could cite more but you get the point. Marie Mitchell said the purpose of the paper is to explain why it happens and how you can prevent it from happening to you. She said, “It’s the desire for self-protection that primarily causes employees to cheat. Employees want to look valuable and productive, especially if they think their job is at risk.”
In other words, some employees feel their job depends on high marks so they “fudge” to stay employed.
“We’ve seen it in finance, we’ve seen it with educators and test scores, we’ve seen it in sports, it’s everywhere. Performance pressure elicits cheating when employees feel threatened. Even though there is the potential of getting a good payoff if they heighten their performance, there’s also significant awareness that if they don’t, their job is going to be at risk,” Mitchell noted.
Sadly she says these employees don’t think they can meet an employer’s expectations any other way. It causes them to do what is beneficial to them no matter who it harms — and that includes co-workers.
“Angry and self-serving employees turn to cheating to meet performance demands. It’s understandable. There’s a cycle in which nothing is ever good enough today. Even if you set records last month, you may get told to break them again this month. People get angry about that, and their self-protective reflex is elicited almost subconsciously,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said managers need to understand the potential threat to the workplace and other employees, and how to prevent it from happening. It starts with coaching employees that their performance goals are not meant as a threat.
“It could be that if you pair performance pressure with ethical standards and give employees the right kind of assurance within the workplace, it can actually motivate great performance. There have been many scholars who have argued that you need to stretch your employees because it motivates them, makes them step outside of their normal boxes and be more creative. Our research says that it could, but it also might cause them to act unethically.”
Source link: Insurance Journal