Why monitoring staff wellbeing could help prevent fraud

Learn how to spot the tell-tale signs of a stressed or distracted employee – and how to offer support.

According to the Mental Health Foundation one in seven people experience mental health problems at work and 12.7% of all sickness absence in the UK is down to mental health conditions. But, unfortunately, 84% of employees do not feel able to talk openly about a mental health issue.

Today, sources of stress might include long hours or toxic behaviour in the workplace. While the pressures of home life might tend towards relationship difficulties, divorce or perhaps the responsibility of being a carer.

There are also health issues like illness, injury or bereavement and of course financial concerns associated with challenges such as bad debt or fear of redundancy.

Stressed and distracted employees are more likely to fall for scams

The Psychology of Scams, a report by consumer association Which?, draws attention to an individual’s ‘window of tolerance’. This is how much strain you can personally tolerate while still thinking clearly – anything extra and it starts to affect your reasoning and judgment.

The report found that victims often fell for scams when they were emotionally vulnerable, stressed, tired or distracted.

Scammers are well known for building relationships and employing tactics such as ‘authority bias’, where they pretend they’ve spoken to someone else in the company already in order to gain trust, or they might imitate trusted people or organisations.

They’re adept at coaching victims to ignore warnings from their bank and in creating a sense of urgency around a request to ramp up pressure.

Warning signs that staff might need support

Indicators could include a change in an employee’s usual behaviour or appearance, being absent or late, withdrawn, anxious, uncharacteristically emotional or less productive.

Understandably, employees experiencing these symptoms are likely to report more negatively in areas such as job satisfaction and engagement, and they’re also more likely to fall victim to fraud – or even Insider Fraud.

How can you help?

Create a safe place to talk and ask the right questions

  • Provide a private space and the opportunity for managers to check in regularly with employees
  • Present an open, approachable management style, and encourage your team to come to you with any problems
  • Consider training up mental health first aiders or designated members of staff
  • Be open to different ways of one-to-one communication – this could be face to face, email or video, whatever feels more comfortable
  • Signpost resources so that they can see that help is available
  • Listen carefully and follow up on any concerns

Mental health after being a victim of fraud

Around 60% of victims of fraud go on to suffer from mental health issues, according to the Government campaign Stop! Think Fraud, produced with charity Mental Health UK. Equally, a report from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute indicates that if a person is already struggling with their mental wellbeing it can make them three times more likely to be a victim of online fraud.

Practical ways to help your staff stay safe

  • Provide regular training sessions and reminders about potential weak spots such as cold calling, phishing, vishing and email fraud
  • Use two-factor authentication wherever possible
  • Don’t reuse or share passwords
  • Mistakes happen, offer staff the opportunity to speak up if they’ve clicked on a dodgy link
  • Ensure at least two people approve and authenticate payments and encourage employees to speak out if they’re unsure

Visit our Fraud Hub for upcoming webinars and further insight.

This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of NatWest Group, as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Copyright © NatWest Group. All rights reserved.

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