Stress evaluation verifies employee’s truthfulness


Many companies regularly lose thousands of dollars to dishonest employees, either through a misuse of company resources for an individual’s benefit or worse still through outright theft or fraud.
Safeguard Invstigations, a private investigation company, is often called in by companies to investigate such frauds, thefts and misuse of, for instance, company cars, which it often does through the use of undercover operatives.
A useful aid in uncovering the culprit among a number of suspects is the use of a Psychological Stress Evaluation (PSE) test. The test helps determine whether someone is telling the truth through the use of PSE electronic equipment that records a person’s stress levels when being asked questions.
The test can also be used to test the truthfuless and therefore likely honesty of potential employees before taking them on, thereby reducing the chances of losing money to dishonest employees from the start.
Safeguard Investigations, which is a member of the Safeguard Group, has been successfully conducting both pre-employment and post-employment PSE tests for clients for a number of years.
John Woodward, who heads Safeguard Investigations, believes more companies could avoid losses if their potential employees were given Safeguard’s PSE test as part of the employment interview process.
He explained that Safeguard’s Psychological Stress Evaluation equipment works through testing the reactions of a part of the body that is the first to be activated by adrenalin.
When a person is relaxed there is no rush of adrenalin. When they are asked a question that they give a false answer to, they can generally not avoid the adrenalin increase which goes with the stress they feel under.
The PSE test has been found, therefore, to be a reliable indication of whether a person is answering a question truthfully or not.
While the discovery of major losses through suspected employee theft or fraud often prompts an investigation, many companies are either unaware that they are losing money through employee theft or do not appreciate how even thefts of small amounts add up.
Woodward gave the example of an investigation Safeguard did for a supermarket, which was losing a significant amount of money simply because till operators were giving customers small items in place of change but not entering the cost of those items in their computerised tills.
At the end of the day, they were able to pocket the amount of money that this unrecorded change added up to.
“Assuming that each of five tellers gives 100 customers sweets equivalent to five cents change each day, withour entering the cost in the till, that means that at the end of the day each teller takes home five dollars that should have gone to the supermarket,” said Woodward.
“Together the five of them would take away $25. In a month that comes to $750.
“Of course many of the customers will have been owed more than five cents change. They could have been given small items equivalent to anything between five cents and 90 cents in place of change. So the supermarket is likely to lose considerably more than $750 per month in loss of stock that has not been accounted for by being rung up on the till.”
“In the long run this could have a major impact on the business,” he said.
Avoiding such losses requires close monitoring of staff. However, that is not always easy. Ensuring that only honest staff are employed would reduce the risk of losses through employee theft considerably.
It is never easy to judge a person’s honesty at an interview. However, utilising Safeguard’s PSE test could take much of the guesswork out of such an assessment. The person being interviewed would have to agree to the test.
Safeguard has used the test itself with its own employees or potential employees. It carries out the test regularly on guards who are assigned to Safeguard’s cash-in-transit unit, which is responsible for transporting cash on behalf of clients to the bank or between a company’s different branches.
Woodward has a legal background. He served for 18 years in the police force, where he sometimes took on the role of prosecutor. He has worked in the private security sector for 29 years. He is a member of the World Association of Detectives.
He said most cases of theft and fraud, whether at
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