Sometimes, not confronting an employee who is stealing from you sends the wrong message to other employees. It’s a dicey situation, but one that can lead to serious ramifications when not dealt with immediately. So, how to deal with employee theft?
I’m in a bit of a jam. I hired three assistants for my retail store and, over the last six months, I’ve noticed quite a few irregularities in the shop takings report. Before I divulge into the matter further, I’d mention that the three assistants under suspicion are my childhood friends. When our security went through CCTV, they found that the staff has been pocketing our shop takings. I also suspect they’ve been doing a few sneaky things behind my back like stealing trade secrets.
If truth be told, I’m quite happy with their work. They’re proactive individuals who give their one hundred percent on the tasks and our shop’s takings have also improved since their onboarding. But it’s still a catch-22 situation. I don’t know what to do about the discrepancies. Over time, they’ve consistently denied or made up ridiculous stories. I am writing this to you after looking through my CCTV records. I’ve seen pocketing the shop money and I’m utterly baffled and disappointed. How do I deal with employee theft, as delicately as possible?
Your employees are dishonest. The hard work they put into the job doesn’t make up for the deceit. To give them a second chance, I would put records that draw my suspicion and file it separately. It’s important to believe that the irregularities may be related to employee theft. Make a strong file of every instance you can provide, including physical evidence, witness testimony, financial documents, CCTV footage, etc.
Consult with an interrogation specialist to determine how exactly you’re going to go about with the questions. Something along the lines of “Are you stealing?” isn’t going to give you any answers. You may call the police and ask them how to deal with employee theft.
Lastly, ask your assistants to pay back every penny they’ve stolen, either in cash or pay deduction. If not, either you fire them or report to the police. Keeping an employee who is stealing may simply send the wrong message to others employees that stealing is acceptable.
Make sure you have tangible proof and proper backup of the documentation before firing the employees.
Q&A with Jane: The brutal and straightforward answers to HR-related queries and concerns. Send in your queries with the subject line ‘Ask JANE HARPER’ at firstname.lastname@example.org