A study of 1,322 British workers – commissioned by recruitment related website HireScore.com – has found that 82 per cent of people lie on behalf of their managers every day and more than half have had to take the flak for a managerial error; resulting in 17 per cent of British employees getting into trouble with senior management or clients. In addition, one in three workers believes that their boss would be annoyed if they didn’t lie to prevent unwanted calls coming through, and almost one in five British office workers have taken the blame for a manager’s slip-up, which has resulted in complaints from senior management and clients.
Naturally, HireScores.com has taken the moral high ground. It claims to offer advice to firms on what to do if candidates lie on their CVs or, subsequently, lie about being ill, for example. Moreover, in terms of business ethics, organisations spend time, money and rhetoric on treating customers fairly and yet this survey appears to show a high level of institutionalised dishonesty.
Comment: Yet, in condemning workers for their dishonesty and their employers for encouraging it, no one appears to have realised that, for this survey to be reliable, these workers have to be telling the truth. So, would we have preferred them to lie in the survey so that it looked as if they never tell lies? If we don’t applaud them now for their honesty about their dishonesty, will that not drive dishonesty underground? If that happens, how can we trust: the people we deal with in business every day – or those who survey them, if it comes to that? Far from lifting the lid and shining a light on the whole moral issue of dishonesty at work, this survey seems to have muddied the waters and raised more concerns than it settles.