Employee Theft – Survey Results


(Original Situation)

An employee that has been with the company for 12 years has approached you with a confession. They tell you that they stole an item that was less than $50 from the office. This associate has been one of the top performers year and after year. In addition to performance, this associate always shows up on time and helps inspire others. When you ask the associate why they stole the item, they tell you that they were short on cash and replaced it the next week. After you confirm that the item is was replaced you then ask the associate to come back into the office for a conversation. How would you proceed with this associate:


The most popular survey response so far, employee theft was a hot topic for everyone! The data is interesting, and I am very surprised that more people didn’t choose immediate termination. Not saying that this would be my choice, but compliance and consistency in human resources is incredibly important when factoring your decision.

Results were almost split evenly, this is all the more reason leadership is so powerful. Each person has their own way of doing business and achieving success. Something to really think about is the impact we have on other’s lives. It occurred to me one day that I influence someone’s family, their finance, their stability, and their own personal wellness. Making decisions to terminate others can be devastating to both the company and the employee.

Considering all options is important, and when delivering your decision to the employee, make sure you analyze the entire situation. I would definitely recommend partnering with someone on this decision, finding out what has been done in the past with others to avoid a lawsuit. –No one said anything about that which surprised me.

Here are a few of the “Other solution” comments from those who took the survey:

“A combination of “Ask what they think is appropriate” and “tell how much their work is appreciated” with a side of “asking how they got in the situation”. Money problems often are a symptom of deeper issues. If the employee is important to the company than the leader owes it to both the company and the employee to find out there is more here than meets the eye. Sounds like a “cry for help” to me.”

“I need more information about the situation and if this person is one of the top performers why and how could they be short on cash. This leads to an open discussion between to two of us. Based on that info I could possibly have enough info to make my decision…”

“In my past experiences as a Manager, there was no tolerance for stealing, no matter what the explanation was. But with this situation, I may be comfortable with a final warning and then termination if it happened again.”

I greatly appreciate the multitude of responses; many submissions had strong passion and emotion in their responses. Corrective action is an enormous part of a leader’s responsibility, strong decision strength in this category is critical. I have made many difficult decisions as a leader myself, and each one I learn something new. Once I make a decision I support myself and the company, and try not to dwell on the past. I am always here for anyone who wants to take a partner in a decision; it’s what we do when we develop daily!

-Michael Dooley






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