"I was approached by one of my staff to inform me that another of my employees is stealing from the company. How do I handle an employee that steals?"
This is a difficult issue to address. Employee theft is a very common event in most organizations. Most theft is limited to office supplies (pens, pencils, pads of paper, etc). This type of theft becomes more rampant around the back-to-school time. Just because it is a common occurrence, that does not make it right and it can carry with it strong legal penalties.There are employees that take it to the next level and find ways to remove expensive office equipment (computers, projectors, furniture, etc). This is a less common situation and propels the employee down a road that may be life changing do to the harsher legal penalties.
In Washington State, the laws for theft have penalties ranging from a Misdemeanor to a class B Felony that carry potential prison sentences from one 12 to 120 months and fines ranging from $5,000 to $20,000.
Here are a few suggestions on how to approach the situation;
1. Talk with the accusing employee with a colleague or manager and get a detail description of what was taken and what proof there is that the accused employee actually did steal from the company.
2. Talk with the accused employee with the same colleague or manager present and confront them with the accusation without mentioning the name of the accuser. Naming the accuser can come later if necessary.
3. If you feel there was adequate proof that the employee did steal from the company, then the action you take will probably be determined by the value of the item(s) stolen. Actions may range from a warning, reassignment, or dismissal.
4. If the value of the items taken is significant to the company, then the legal authorities should be consulted immediately before taking any company action.
Allowing employee theft to occur unchecked, no matter how small the item will create a culture of lenience that will only be detrimental to the overall organization over time.
OTHER RECENT 2 Minute: Tips & Thoughts
How do I overcome the image of a "know-it-all"?
How do I increase my network?
How do I get more respect within my organization?
If you have a question you would like us to address, let us know at contact@CollaborationHQ.com