Beware the Disgruntled Employee: New Study Reveals Job Dissatisfaction Could Lead to Dishonesty

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A new study by comparing satisfied with dissatisfied employees reveals that the latter group is more likely to condone dishonest behavior at work.

Some employees may just quit if they are disgruntled. Others may take their frustration out on the company by stealing or slacking off.

When employees are dissatisfied with their job, they may rationalize acts of dishonesty.

Keeping employees engaged and satisfied may not prevent all unsavory behaviors, but a commitment to the company would compel them to think twice.

Some disgruntled employees will vent their frustrations by telling the social media world exactly how they feel about their boss and their company. Others sit and stew, dreading every minute they spend on the clock. Some just quit. But now managers have a new cause for concern when employee motivation is lagging: The disgruntled, dishonest employee.

Research from PsychTests reveals that employees who are not satisfied with their job tend to have a more liberal attitude toward dishonesty at work, including lying and stealing.

Analyzing data from 1,609 employees who took their Integrity and Work Ethics Test, researchers focused on the stark contrast in attitude between those who expressed high levels of job satisfaction and those who didn’t. PsychTests’ study reveals that:

  • 51% of the dissatisfied employees have stolen something from their employer; 10% admitted that what they stole was of significant monetary value (compared to 39% and 3% of the satisfied employees, respectively).
  • 29% of the dissatisfied employees spend at least half an hour a day using the internet at work for personal use (i.e. sending personal emails, visiting social media sites, etc.), compared to 22% of the satisfied employees.
  • 33% of the dissatisfied employees suggested that employees should not be punished for using the internet at work, compared to 22% of the satisfied employees.
  • 18% of the dissatisfied employees admit that they would not tell their employer if they witnessed someone stealing at work, compared to 9% of the satisfied employees.
  • If their boss went on vacation, 16% of the dissatisfied employees indicated they would slack off completely, compared to 6% of the satisfied employees.
  • If their company had installed surveillance cameras, 14% of the dissatisfied employees confessed that they would have worked harder and taken fewer breaks, while 6% indicated that they would not have stolen from their employer (compared to 6% and less than 1% of the satisfied employees, respectively).
  • 11% of the dissatisfied employees have already been fired for theft or significant rule-breaking at work compared to 6% of the satisfied employees.

“Managers who dismiss the importance of employee motivation, delegation, and mentoring may find themselves making a costly error,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “Our data show that while dishonesty is not limited to disgruntled workers and often involves only minor offenses, the propensity to behave in such a way increases with job dissatisfaction. Keeping employees engaged and satisfied may not prevent all unsavory behaviors, but a commitment to the company would compel them to think twice. Most people will not go down the slippery slope unless they feel ‘justified’ to do so … it could be retribution, a desire to ‘level the playing field’, an ‘us vs. them’ attitude, or simply the feeling that their manager or the company as a whole had it coming. Our research has already shown that a manager’s poor behavior can increase turnover – the same can be said for dishonesty and theft as well.”

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About PsychTests AIM Inc
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see The company’s research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.

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Ilona Jerabek
PsychTests AIM Inc.
+1 514-745-3189 Ext: 112
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