Inspectors General and other oversight offices spend far more time tracking fraud, waste and abuse than they do thinking about employee performance or motivation.  If you’re looking for predictors of future fraud, however, you could do worse than considering what motivates your agency’s employees to go to work each day.

Several years ago, workplace research company TINYPulse analyzed over 200,000 employee responses to find what motivated employees.  The number one reason employees go the extra mile, it turned out, was camaraderie with their peers.  Money was ranked eighth.

The best way to build camaraderie is to lead them to work towards a shared purpose.  Along the way, they will share experiences, leading to a shared identity as a member of the team.  Investigative offices understand better than most that a shared motivation to do what’s right can help build trust and respect within a team.  Without that shared identity, it’s hard to build camaraderie.

But not all offices have the same level of camaraderie typically seen in investigative offices.  Offices with these three traits not only have low levels of camaraderie among their employees, but also lack employee motivation and engagement.

  • Agency employees are completing tasks with no concept of how they contribute to the agency’s purpose.  While employees might know how their work is used in a narrow sense, they don’t understand how the work ties into the agency’s top priorities, or even how their work contributes to the public’s well-being.

  • Inefficient or redundant processes, or those that aren’t relevant anymore, are accepted as an inevitable part of daily work life.  They are rarely reported to senior management for review, because employees believe the agency is too entrenched in its current way of doing things to make changes until there’s a crisis or political pressure from outside of the agency.

  • The average employee tenure is long, not because the job is sought after but because most new employees quickly realize that nobody at the agency is moving towards anything. Most get out before they too get mired in the agency’s cynicism and stagnation, while those that remain adopt the agency’s culture of dormancy.

While this is obviously the description of an ineffective agency, it’s also a description of an agency rife with corruption.  That’s because a very high percentage of employees aren’t going the extra mile for anything – they’re just showing up for a paycheck.  And many of them are actively disengaged with their work.

Actively disengaged employees are defined by Gallup as acting out their unhappiness by undermining what engaged co-workers accomplish. In fact, Gallup goes into more detail, explaining how the actively disengaged are an HR team’s worst nightmare:

Actively disengaged employees are more or less out to damage their company. They monopolize managers’ time; have more on-the-job accidents; account for more quality defects; contribute to “shrinkage” or theft; are sicker; miss more days; and quit at a higher rate than engaged employees do. Whatever the engaged do — such as solving problems, innovating, and creating new customers — the actively disengaged try to undo.

Why do your agency’s employees show up at work?  Is it to help the citizens they serve?  Is it to help their co-workers achieve success?  Or are they only showing up for a paycheck?  If the agency’s culture is toxic, leadership will need to work hard to reverse the cycle of poor performance.  Otherwise, bitter and hopeless employees will make your investigative team very busy.

To learn how CMTS can help your investigative team close cases more efficiently, call us at 855-636-5361 or email us at