And our workplaces suffer as a result.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal artcle, lying in the workplace begins before somone gets a job and ends at the exit interview.
While many of us may consider our lies harmless, they could have significant consequences. The habit of lying becomes contagious, and it does not take long for such a habit to become the norm, and then the norm to become part of the culture of the organization.
Lying in the job application process
One study estimated that 75% of hiring managers caught a candidate lying on a resume (somewhat misleading; this does not mean that 75% of applicants are lying). Such resume padding occurs at all levels, from entry-level to CEOs.
Lying on the job
Three of the most common reasons for lying are: to get a raise, to take credit for somebody else’s idea, and to cover up mistakes. And the higher people climb in an organization, the more often they lie.
Some people work when they claim to be taking time off, and some people take time off when they claim to be working. An inteersting study looked at what day of the week are people most likely to lie. Perhaps not surprisingly, Friday was hte most popular day to lie, with 41% of the lies, while Monday was not far behind at 35%. The other days of the week were each less than 10%.
The average person spends 1.5 to three hours a day at work on “private activities” (70% of U.S. internet traffic passing through porn sites is done during working hours, and 60% of all online purchases are made during working hours.)
The Exit Interview
The exit interview is the bellwether of workplace dishonesty—if people are lying on their way out, then chances are they have told plenty of self-protective lies all along the way. While many people leave their job becuase they feel their boss does not appreciate them, they may be hesitant to say so at a n exit interview.
While the article offers some useful advice about how to resuce the amount of dishonest in the workplace, I think one of the msot effective ways is to create a habit of not lying. Such habits are fored in early childhood, and need to be reinforced continually during a person’s academic years.
As I wrote in a recent post cheating is surging in colleges, and one of the reasons we re concerned is that such behavior could become the culture of the university. Once tht happens it would be a long and challenging process to change such a culture.
Anotehr reason we re concerned is that if a student is cheating in school, then it seems likely they will cheat on the job.
We all have a role to play in this culture of lying, but I think the most important thing is to simply be an honest person. It’s a lot easier than the alternative, and it puts you on a good mood when you know that you have behaved in an honorable way,