Integrity: Building a trustworthy workforce by weeding out the cheaters

When it comes to hiring, integrity is a highly desirable trait. But what does integrity really mean, and how can companies ensure their employees have it? This is particularly important for staffing suppliers and other organizations that provide employees to other companies. An untrustworthy employee can do serious harm to both businesses, so it’s essential to find them and remove them from your company as soon as possible.

Most definitions of integrity refer to a person’s adherence to moral values and can be challenging to pin down. One thing that certainly doesn’t demonstrate integrity, though, is cheating. A person who is willing to cheat might be ready to break other rules or show other moral shortcomings. In this way, cheating is a reasonable if imperfect proxy for lack of integrity.

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Testing employees is standard in many industries, and it’s a fantastic way of ensuring that all employees are on the same page. It’s also essential to ensure that employees are up to date on the latest industry regulations so that they can be effective in their roles, and it offers an opportunity to demonstrate integrity. Because testing provides a low-risk opportunity to catch and filter out cheaters, it’s a safe way of ensuring integrity in your organisation.

However, a carelessly administrated test can actually encourage cheating. Even generally well-behaved employees can justify a peek at their notes if they think the test is an unimportant formality. On the other hand, if the company is showing that they take the test seriously and taking precautions against cheating, employees are more likely to take it seriously.

The more obstacles a person chooses to circumvent, the greater the lack of integrity they demonstrate. In other words, deterring casual cheaters with some basic precautions leaves only the most persistent cheaters. Proper testing procedures also make it easier to catch cheaters.

Some measures to make life harder on would-be cheaters are as simple as supervising individuals as they take the test – either in the room or over the internet. Companies can also use a secure cloud platform and locked-down web browser to make it more challenging to cheat.

On a larger scale, businesses can make their commitment to integrity clear in a variety of ways. An easy one is adding ‘integrity’ to the company’s code of conduct – if it isn’t there already. Less specific, but more effective, is taking responsibility for mistakes at all levels of the company and praising initiative and honesty. Companies which work to remove the incentives for cheating and other bad behavior will not only have greater trust in employees, but they will be able to provide better services.

Overall, cheating is a reasonable way to quantify a lack of integrity, something which is particularly important to prevent in the recruiting industry. However, testing needs to be done correctly to avoid inadvertently encouraging otherwise-upstanding employees to cheat. Increased testing precautions not only deter casual cheaters; it makes it more likely that the company will catch committed cheaters. In addition to rooting out cheaters, companies should try to find and reward integrity in their employees to create a better, more trustworthy, more productive workplace for everyone.

Lars Pedersen

Lars Pedersen
Lars Pederson is CEO of Questionmark

Lars Pedersen

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