The concept of Cognitive Dissonance is the psychology behind an individual’s inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitude to rationalize their behavior as normal, appropriate, or acceptable; even if their behavior is unacceptable or illegal.

This is important to understand because, even under the best of economic and health circumstances, there are always individuals who rationalize their engagement in unethical or illegal action as normal and will take advantage of others. With widespread economic and social uncertainty, the odds of people feeling driven to those behaviors have potential to increase, and employers need to be mindful of preventing risk.

For example, there is a growing number of scammers conducting fraudulent job-site health and compliance inspections and then attempting to issue thousands of dollars in fake fines to businesses. Recently in states like, Oregon, OSHA is reporting and warning employers to not be “fooled” as they actively investigate a growth in complaints from people attempting to take advantage of businesses during these challenging times.

For this reason, and as a best practice, employers, too, need to be vigilant about their new hires. While research from the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) and the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) demonstrate that during an economic downturn injury claims initially trend downward. Top risk managers from leading national staffing firms share, “In a financial downturn our history tells us fraud and severity of claims increase. The fraud too is not just with employees, it’s also through the physician levels, so it’s increasingly important to apply caution for other contributing factors when hiring now, and as we begin recovery.” For example, if an employee knows a position is temporary, and return to work options remain scarce, it might be too hard to pass up the idea of faking or exaggerating an injury to collect income from a workers’ compensation benefit.So, what is an easy, proactive course of action employers can take in hiring today and in planning for future business recovery efforts?

Integrate a simple, yet highly predictive online solution like a pre-hire integrity test such as the ones offered by Insight Worldwide as a legal and valid tool. As a true EEOC compliant provider, Insight is able to use the psychology of cognitive dissonance to identify applicants who self-admit to workers’ compensation fraud, theft, violence, illegal drug use, and absenteeism at the time of application.

Even when national unemployment is under 3%, case studies and online integrity testing of over one-million applicants, annually, across industries such as temporary staffing, senior living, manufacturing, hospitality and retail, clerical, distribution and transportation, and construction reveals that 2-3% of all applicants admit to workers’ compensation fraud.

To protect themselves, companies need to be aware of these risks and to actively plan to implement quality solutions in their hiring efforts. Take steps to mitigate risk, stay in frequent communication with your insurance broker, and industry support experts to help exercise caution—and vigilance—as you chart a path forward through an uncertain business landscape.

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