One of the most important psychological insurance policies available is testing for, and thereby avoiding, counterproductive work behaviours (CWBs). By using psychometric assessments to screen for these behaviours, organisations can significantly lessen the risk of hiring employees that engage in theft, bullying, harassment and health & safety breaches. The same assessment can identify employees that are likely to exhibit positive behaviours like supporting colleagues, advocating on behalf of the organisation and going the extra mile.
Much of the research to date has focussed on the effects of these behaviours on colleagues and the organisation. At SACS we think that there is an equally important question: is it possible to identify characteristics that predict these behaviours and thereby hire people who are less likely to engage in them?
In November and December of 2011 SACS undertook what may well be the biggest study in Australia’s history into the relationship between personality and counterproductive work behaviours. 2000 people employed in an extremely wide range of industries participated in this research project, which measured the personalities of participants as well as the degree to which they participated in counterproductive work behaviours. We used Lee and Ashton’s excellent HEXACO personality instrument and related it to a SACS developed survey measure of counterproductive work behaviours. The results are remarkable in that they show how widespread counterproductive work behaviours are in the workforce, but they also show an extremely strong link to personality, suggesting that these behaviours can be predicted and the risk of their occurrence quantified.