This is the last part of my three part series on dealing with employee theft claims. Our approach works very well because we let the employees know up front what our procedure is and why. From the day they are hired, we warn them that eventually they will probably be accused of taking something. We explain that we have a detailed process to prove what happened. We explain this all as a benefit to the employee, that we will go to extreme ends to prove they are not a thief. It also makes it clear to those that may be thinking of stealing that it is a very bad idea at our company, even if we never say those exact words.
It is important to explain the entire process upfront, because when it happens there will be a lot of emotion on the side of the employee being accused. For them to know that you expect this to happen, and that the process is designed to clear them, makes the process run much smoother for all sides.
When we make the first call, we never mention the words “theft” or “stolen.” It would sound like this. "Hi Cleaner, it is Derek. Mrs. Smith called and she said she cannot find her green emerald necklace. She said the last time she saw it was the weekend before we cleaned. It was on her nightstand. Do you remember seeing it or know where it may be?" Over half the time, the investigation ends at this step without making any accusations. Once a cleaner was vacuuming and saw a necklace on the carpet so she picked it up and hung it on a picture right above it. Often the item is on the back of the toilet. It always seems to be the toilet. The employees know upfront that they will get this call and that it is not an accusation of theft.
When it gets to the stage to have the police involved, we tell our employees ahead of time just to relax and tell the police the truth to clear themselves, and that we do not think they did it. We always tell them we have their backs. If it reaches the lie detector stage, they know that we have given 9 lie detector tests in 9 years, that in 8 cases the test cleared our employee, and in the 9th case she gave us the ring she stole, so we know the test was correct. If they did not steal anything there is nothing to fear. We pay the $400 for this test to clear them, not to prove they did it. Most people walk into the test with confidence.
If you wait until there is a theft claim before having this discussion, the employee will only hear that you are accusing them. Our process works, however, because we lay the groundwork with our employees long before a theft happens.
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