This article was updated on Oct. 16, 2018.
Employee theft is a more common problem than many employers believe or understand. As such, it's important to determine the steps you will take in the aftermath of terminating an employee for this type of offense. By deciding in advance how you will communicate this information to your other employees, you can help convert the situation into a valuable learning experience.
Here are some steps you can take to help your team become more diligent and responsible in cases of employee theft:
Set Aside a Time to Talk
Rumors have the potential to run rampant in an office setting. As such, it's important to take immediate action by informing your team that the individual is no longer with the business for reasons that are personal between the impacted individual and the organization. To help reduce the risk of defamation or privacy concerns, instruct employees to refrain from speaking to third parties about the individual's termination without further instruction from an HR advisor or employment counsel.
Emphasize the Importance of Continuity
Employees will be naturally concerned about who will fill the void left by the terminated employee. As such, you should act swiftly to determine an action plan and communicate it to your team. Consider dividing tasks amongst employees or assume some of them yourself. In any case, you should be clear about how the affected employees should balance their new responsibilities with their typical day-to-day tasks.
Review Employee Policies and Encourage Participation
This unfortunate incident provides you and your team with a good opportunity to review your firm's policies regarding theft. Be sure to emphasize the importance of employee cooperation in reporting such offenses. Your policy should make clear that there will be no retaliation against employees who report theft and similar offenses.
Provide a Method Through Which Employees Can Leave Anonymous Tips
If you have a hotline system in place where employees can anonymously alert you about possible theft, make sure everyone understands how to use it. If not, now might be the time to implement such a system. You can establish phone or e-mail hotlines, or simply purchase a lockbox in which employees can leave anonymous notes regarding suspicious behavior.
By promoting a culture of proactive behavior in the aftermath of terminating an employee, you can help deter future crimes. After all, employees may be less inclined to engage in acts of theft if they are aware of your policies and know the proper way to escalate concerns about theft. On a lighter note, you will help create a work environment in which honest communication is encouraged.