Wells Fargo Fires Employees for Pretending to Work

Wells Fargo said the allegations involved “simulation of keyboard activity” that created the “impression of active work.”

Photo of Wells Fargo logo on a building
Photo by Nick Sarvari via Unsplash

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Wells Fargo’s employees just can’t stop faking stuff.

The third largest bank in the US has reportedly terminated more than a dozen employees in its wealth and investment management unit after allegedly learning they were pretending to work at their desks during business hours. The San Francisco-based Wells said the allegations involved “simulation of keyboard activity” that created the “impression of active work,” according to filings with the industry self-regulating body FINRA. 

The bank did not comment on how they were tipped off to the behavior, or if the alleged violators were working from home or in the office at the time. “Wells Fargo holds employees to the highest standards and does not tolerate unethical behavior,” a spokesperson wrote in an email to The Daily Upside.

Wells’ employees began using a so-called “hybrid flexible model” in early 2022, which now allows most staffers to be in the office at least three days a week, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the terminations. Some Wells employees, including management and client-facing branch workers, are required to be in office more regularly. 

Still, that’s laxer than some of its competitors, like Goldman Sachs, Citi Group and JP Morgan, that have full five-day in-office work weeks. 

Anyone Homer?

After the rise of remote work during the pandemic, devices that help would-be workers simulate productivity have become popular – and affordable. Like Homer Simpson’s famous drinking bird, gadgets that mimic mouse movement, commonly known as “mouse jigglers,” are available on Amazon for as little as $20 in some cases. 

Other seemingly more sophisticated contraptions allow crafty slackers to place their mouse on top of a spinning dial to tip off its sensors. It seems Homer was well ahead of his time. 

Just Scandalous!

The firings come after years of tumult at the wirehouse that saw an exodus of lucrative financial advisors leave in droves. To hit sales quotas in 2016, employees were caught creating millions of fake customer accounts that stunned the industry and cost the company $3 billion. The financial fallout took the multinational corporation years to recover from, and has left blemishes on its reputation with banking customers. 

Since at least last November, regulators have also been badgering Wells Fargo about its slapdash monitoring of financial crimes.

Big Brother 

Don’t think employers aren’t up to your tricks. Modern remote monitoring software can easily track exactly what workers are doing on their computers, including recording the frequency of emails and messages sent, websites visited, programs and apps opened, and even down to the individual keystrokes logged. 

The downside, according to a Harvard Business Review study, is that monitored employees are substantially more likely to disregard rules, damage or steal workplace property, and purposefully work at a slow pace – or, in this case, pretend to.