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Signs Your Employees Aren’t Trustworthy

By: Dan Alvin


an untrustworthy employee spying on another employee

In an ideal world, all business owners could leave the everyday management of their businesses in the capable hands of their employees. While some certainly can do that, many worry their employees aren’t trustworthy enough. Trust can be built over time. Still, you may worry about your ability to maintain a healthy working environment and protect your best interests if you notice these signs:

You’ve Caught Them In Lies

Background checks from leading providers like Triton Canada can go a long way toward filtering out dishonest people before they become employees at your business. In a background check, you can compare applicant resumes to their criminal histories, educational backgrounds, and work histories.

However, dishonest employees still exist. You may believe an employee isn’t trustworthy when you’ve caught them out in lies. They might make up stories, have inconsistent versions of events, or fabricate reasons why they made mistakes or were late to work. Even employees who withhold important information can make the average employer nervous.

They Don’t Meet Your Expectations

Most employers set expectations and goals for employees to meet. Deadlines are also a standard part of the average worker’s role. You naturally expect employees to meet your deadlines, goals, and expectations, but that doesn’t always happen.

You may question how trustworthy an employee is if they frequently underperform and do not meet your expectations despite having the necessary resources and skills. They may not be committed or simply lack the work ethic you expect.

They Violate Your Company’s Policies

Most companies and businesses have policies, rules, and guidelines in place. They are established to ensure employees do right by your business and its reputation, customers, and other employees. Company policies differ from company to company but typically relate to everyday tasks. Most employees are aware of the policies and would have even received copies of them as part of the onboarding process.

They Avoid Accountability and Responsibility

Man and woman high-fiving at workPhoto by Krakenimages on Unsplash

Most responsible, trustworthy employees will take accountability and responsibility for any mistakes they make. However, that’s certainly not the case with all employees. Some will make mistakes and deflect blame onto other people who may or may not have been involved. They may also refuse to take responsibility for anything that was possibly their fault. Not only may you question their trustworthiness, but you may also question their integrity.

There’s Evidence of Dishonesty

Dishonesty in the form of theft or fraud can be disheartening for any business owner. You want to see and believe the best in your employees, but they can make that impossible. There can be many signs of employee fraud and theft to look out for, such as:

  • Employee lifestyles not matching their salaries
  • Employees being secretive
  • Accounts receivable discrepancies
  • You’ve received complaints and tips about specific employees

Fraud and theft can exist in many forms, like:

  • Kickbacks
  • Payroll fraud
  • Benefits fraud
  • Theft
  • Embezzlement
  • Bribery

As much as we want our employees to all be trustworthy, that’s not every business owner’s experience. You may question your employees’ trustworthiness when there’s evidence of dishonesty, and they violate your policies, don’t meet your expectations, and avoid accountability.

Published: May 5, 2024

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Dan Alvin

Dr. Dan Alvin is a psychologist specializing in issues of identity and behavior in the workplace. He writes frequently on performance management, workplace health, employee satisfaction and motivation, and workplace harassment.

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