Selection Alternatives to the Preemployment Polygraph
JOHN W. JONES AND WILLIAM TERRIS
The main purpose of preemployment polygraph examinations was to screen job applicants with a propensity for employee theft, a crime which is widespread, difficult to detect, and the most costly crime against business ( American Management Association, 1977). When Hollinger and Clark ( 1983) surveyed thousands of employees to establish the base rate of employee theft, they found that 42 percent of retail sector employees, 32 percent of hospital employees, and 26 percent of manufacturing personnel admitted to this crime. Slora ( 1988) conducted an anonymous survey among fast food employees and found that 62 percent admitted to theft of company property or cash, and 78 percent admitted to time theft (e.g., faking illness and calling in sick, leaving work early without permission). These findings are consistent with Hefter ( 1986) claim that one in three employees steals at work. Moreover, Meinsma ( 1985) research suggests that anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent of all business bankruptcies can be attributable in part to employee theft problems. These researchers are beginning to quantify both the total frequency and cost of employee theft. The existence of significant theft in the workplace is widely accepted by security researchers and professionals.
Businesses have used two general approaches to reduce theft losses. The first, to alter the work environment so as to preclude the possibility of theft, is primarily aimed at shoplifters. It includes the use of undercover security officers, closed- circuit televisions, and special sensor tags on each inventory article. Although