Study: Employees Most Honest At The Beginning Of The Work Week
Want an honest answer from your employee? Ask them on Monday. A new Israeli study shows that employees’ tendency to tell the truth weakens as the weekend approaches. While this notion may seem somewhat random, Ben Gurion University Professor Bradley Ruflle says his findings don’t lie.
In a recent study, 427 Israeli soldiers were asked to roll a six-sided dice in private, and report the results to their unit commander. The soldiers were told that for each point they report, they would be released half an hour earlier from the army base the following Thursday. The experiment was conducted on different days of the week but the incentive (an earlier release) remained constant. Lower numbers were reported earlier in the week and higher numbers later on in the week, thus indicating dishonest reporting from soldiers later in the week.
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If you can “taste” the reward you’re more likely to lie
Ruffle explains that “the weekend’s closeness in time enhances its prominence; one can almost ‘taste’ the weekend and the associated freedom.” With the “taste” of the weekend in their mouth the honesty of the soldiers diminished.
While other studies have investigated dishonesty in relation to the severity of the punishment or the reward, Ruffle’s study stands alone in highlighting “the importance of distancing the time between the question and the reward to obtain honest responses [or behavior].”
Delay the payday
The implications of the study may be extremely relevant to the workplace. For example “instead of immediately paying company managers and employees based on their self-reported tasks, remuneration should be delayed to some, possibly unannounced, future date to promote honesty.” Furthermore, Ruffle advocates postponing reimbursement “to minimize insurance fraud in which the customer overstates the value of claims or falsely reports missing or damaged items.”
And as a cheeky afterthought, Ruffle says: “On a different level, parents often condition rewards to their children on good behavior or the completion of their chores or homework. The optimal time to ask your eight-year-old son whether he behaved well at school is not as you tear off the wrapper from his promised candy, but well beforehand.”
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