One of the most challenging situations an employer can ever have to deal with is employee theft.
It’s hard to know where to start, and you need to tread carefully too.
Here’s how you should deal with the situation in five steps.
Investigate the Suspect
Before accusing the person that you suspect of stealing, you should start an investigation. It’s best to wait for this investigation to be finalised before you accuse anybody.
You could carry out an internal investigation if you want to. But it might be a good idea to hire a professional detective if you’re not sure how to carry out this kind of investigation.
They will bring their expertise and experience to the case and help you to find out exactly what has been going on.
Also Look Into Other Examples of Theft
While you are investigating this theft, you should also revisit any incidents that happened in the past.
Thieves rarely only steal once. They get in the habit of it, so the person who has been stealing from you this time might also have done so in the past.
Sometimes, it won’t be possible to revisit past cases that went unresolved, but if you can see a pattern, then you should at least try. You want to get to the bottom of the whole problem.
Evaluate the Severity of the Incident
Some incidences of theft are more severe than others. For example, stealing stationary might have a small financial impact on the company, but it’s not exactly crime of the century. But if the employee has stolen a large amount of money from the business, then you might have to get the police involved.
You should decide how severe your incident is so that you know which steps to take next. If the issue is severe, then the police will take over and investigate it further with your cooperation.
Talk with the Guilty Employee
When the investigation is over, it’s a good idea to talk to the guilty employee before taking disciplinary action.
You should have another present with you when you confront the person about the situation. If they get aggressive, you should ask them to leave immediately.
It’s worth asking a few questions though. They might be able to reveal the involvement of other people. Or they might give you an honest answer as to why they did what they did. After that, you will have to take the final step.
Take Disciplinary Action
Finally, when you are sure who the culprit is, and you have spoken to them, you will have to take disciplinary action. What kind of disciplinary action you decide to take will depend on a number of factors.
For example, they might apologise, appear sincere and offer an explanation for their actions. This still might not be enough for some people though. You will need to decide whether to give them a warning, suspend them or terminate their employment immediately. This is entirely up to you to decide.