Amelia Herring

How Often do Employees Lie, Cheat, and Steal? Identifying Counterproductivity.

How Often do Employees Lie, Cheat, and Steal? Identifying Counterproductivity.
Amelia Herring

After being stripped of seven Tour de France titles and an Olympic bronze medal, Lance Armstrong finally came clean about his use of banned performance-enhancing drugs.

It seems that cheating, and then lying about the cheating, is becoming more widespread in sports, especially when the stakes are high. For example, some of the best baseball players of all time (e.g., Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire) will likely never be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame because of their scandals.

Luckily, we do not have to worry about the occurrence of lying, cheating, and stealing in our daily lives at work, right?


  • According to ADP, 44% of the more than 2.6 million resumes they examined contained lies about the applicant’s work history.
  • According to a Wonderlic study, theft and counterproductivity are significant issues, even among the college educated. For example, 24.9% spend a significant amount of time performing non work-related tasks (e.g., playing computer games), 23.5% have used marijuana in the last month, 10.4% have stolen things such as confidential information from their employers, and 3.2% have been involved in a workplace altercation involving kicking, hitting, or punching.
  • When taking Wonderlic assessments, approximately 8% of job applicants disclose a recent and specific act of counterproductivity, which causes them to be viewed as a high risk prospective employee.
  • According to Dr. Robert Feldman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, new acquaintances lie to each other roughly three times during a ten-minute conversation.

For the past 75 years, Wonderlic has been improving organizations by developing and validating selection assessments. One such assessment, the Wonderlic Productivity Index® (WPI®), provides employers with an overall assessment of a job applicant’s general productivity and work motivation. More specifically, it assesses:

  • How hard the candidate works, including the extent to which the candidate contributes extra effort and persists despite obstacles and setbacks.
  • How effective the candidate is likely to be in assisting others, both coworkers and customers.
  • The level of risk to the organization due to counterproductive work behaviors (e.g., rule infractions, theft, acts of insubordination, illegal drug use).
  • The level of risk to the organization concerning factors such as turnover, absenteeism, and chronic tardiness.

By using behavioral reliability assessments, such as the Wonderlic Productivity Index® (WPI®), your organization can help minimize the presence of dishonesty in the workplace.

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