An Empirical Approach to Determining Employee Deviance Base Rates
KAREN B. SLORA
The purpose of this chapter is to describe a method for determining the base rates of acts of employee deviance. Employee deviance may reflect acts of either employee theft--the unauthorized taking of cash, merchandise, or property--or production deviance--counterproductive activities that serve to slow the rate or quality of output (e.g., intentionally doing slow or sloppy work, using drugs on the job). Both types of deviance can be costly to employers in terms of losses in profits, inventory, morale, and image.
It is important to determine the true extent of these acts of employee deviance for several reasons. Establishment of base rates may be used to document the seriousness of employee deviance in terms of finding and implementing practical solutions to it. Base rates are also used in setting norm-referenced cutoff scores in preemployment integrity tests ( Ash, 1989; Jones, 1989). Thus, these integrity tests should ideally screen out applicants who would be likely to steal or engage in counterproductive activities on the job.
The measurement of the frequency of acts of employee deviance, however, has been problematic. Commonly used measures (e.g., shrinkage, employee apprehensions) are not applicable to production deviance, such as slow work or other counterproductive work practices, or may not accurately reflect the true incidence of employee theft practices; for example, measures of inventory shrinkage may reflect losses due to accounting errors or mismanagement, as well as theft. The number of employees apprehended for theft accounts only for those who are caught. It is difficult to know the number who go undetected. Preem-____________________