Honest may be the best policy, but when it comes to workplace conduct one in five Canadians say they’re aware of theft and fraud in the workplace. A poll conducted for Ernst & Young LLP by Ipsos-Reid found that 20% of Canadians say they are personally aware of people stealing from their employers according to a poll conducted for professional services firm Ernst & Young LLP by Ipsos-Reid. Of those asked, 38% were “very likely,” and 39% “somewhat likely” to report a co-worker’s fraudulent activities. Of the Americans polled , the responses were 50% and 30% respectively. The types of fraud identified as major problems include inflating expense accounts, “cooking the books,” and pocketing money from cash sales. “The survey results tell us something important,” says Nick Hodson, a partner with Ernst & Young’s litigation advisory services practice. “If you’ve got more than five employees, you’re a victim of fraud. In effect, all companies are suffering loss through fraud. By knowing what’s going on, organizations can work better to deal with it, to identify means to protect themselves, and to encourage the majority of honest employees to join against the fraudsters.” Among other survey findings: – 68% believe that fraud in the workplace has stayed the same or increased in the past couple of years – Respondents believe, on average, that employee fraud robs organizations of 20% of every dollar raised – Tougher sanctions, improved investigations and better role models were identified as effective means of reducing workplace fraud – 44% of respondents believe their employer could do more (cost effectively) to reduce workplace fraud – Male, long term and junior level employees are identified as the most likely to be involved in fraudulent activities – 38% believe technology makes fraud easier to commit; 36% say harder – Most differences in survey findings between Americans and Canadians are nearly indistinguishable. A strong message coming from the survey is the willingness of employees to report fraud in the workplace. “With 77% of employees ready to report fraud, there’s a powerful deterrent against those workers who might be thinking about stealing,” Hodson says. The findings also reveal that 44% of Canadian employees believe their companies can do more to stop theft–solutions ranging from imposing tougher sanctions for those caught, and conducting better investigations of suspected problems, to improving screening of new employees, and offering better role models and leadership from management. Hodson says this too is encouraging news. “Yes, overall the survey tells us that workplace fraud is pervasive. But the majority of employees are honest. Business has a great ally in the war against fraud and it’s right in every company’s own back yard – honest employees are part of the solution,” he says. This is the second survey of its kind done in Canada by Ernst & Young, with the initial survey conducted in 2000. This latest poll includes the U.S. marketplace for the first time. Hodson is impressed by the consistency of results from the 2000 survey and the cross-border data, as well as the different categories of respondents. “The findings start to look a lot like a profile of a general human condition – that one in five people in the population may be dishonest. We see that 20% figure confirmed in more than one finding over time, across job levels, and between Canada and the United States,” he says. Those answering the survey work in a broad range of employment sectors from retail and health services, to food service and banking to construction and manufacturing. Results are based on surveys conducted in Canada and the United States between June 3rd and June 6th, 2002. The total sample size in both countries is 1,000, which is reduced based on employment criteria; only those working full or part time qualified for the study. In the United States, the sample is reduced to 617, which has an associated margin of error of (+/-) 4.2%. The sample size for each question is provided as certain questions have further reduced base sizes.