Employee Malingering During COVID-19

Employee Malingering During COVID-19

Is there a way to stamp out employee malingering? The answer is complicated.

Employee malingering is becoming a problem for some employers. As some states move forward with plans to open their states back up during the global COVID-19 pandemic, many are looking forward to life returning to some semblance of normalcy. While businesses make plans to reopen their doors, there are others that will keep the bulk of their operations remote with employees working from home in order to mitigate the spread of the disease. While many employers feel this precaution is still prudent, there is the additional layer of anxiety about whether employees are keeping their noses to the grindstone, or malingering.

Obviously, these are strange times. A majority of businesses in the United States were forced to shut down direct business to customer operations in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Employees who were not furloughed or laid off due to COVID-19 have been forced to adjust to a new working life devoid of work-life balance—their work is literally in the home—complete with the distraction of children, family, pets, spouses, and other household distractions. It is a stressful time, and it can be difficult to maintain focus. Corporations and organizations should always prioritize their employee’s mental health for the sake of their corporate culture. These predictable challenges with suddenly working from home should not be considered employee malingering. However, willful malingering can lay huge blows to daily productivity and ultimately profits. Employers must have a way to verify whether or not their employees are actually working.

Under more normal, stable circumstances, employers have the benefit of face to face interaction for determining how engaged and productive their employees are. In addition to output, supervisors can note how many breaks they take, the quality of the work, and the level of communication from the employee, both on and offline. However, remote working has made detecting employee malingering almost impossible.

Telecommunication technology has played a vital role in facilitating the continuation of the economy despite the quarantine. Meetings are held over Zoom, employee time is tracked through invoices or through an online time clock of sorts that allows employees to log their time worked and have their timesheets stored on a cloud server. Short of a live camera feed that documents the employee in front of the computer or on the phone, is there truly a way to verify if they are actually working?

The idea of hiring a private investigator to surveil your employees may sound strange or even wrong, but it’s a highly common business practice that legally exposes the drain an individual employee might be having on your company. Private investigators can track an employee’s movements during the time they have invoiced or logged, ensuring that any errands outside the home are work-related and have some value to the corporation. Private investigators can document these movements with GPS trackers placed under their car, photographing their activities in public to either prove or disprove employee malingering. Private investigators are trained to blend in with their surroundings, and conduct surveillance discretely to prevent their cover from being blown, so in the event that no employee malingering is found, no one is the wiser.

If you suspect your employee is malingering on your dime, reach out to Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our surveillance services. Call us at 317-951-1100, or visit our website at lauthinvestigations.com

Top 5 Internal Corporate Issues in 2020

Top 5 Internal Corporate Issues in 2020

Top 5 Internal Corporate Issues in 2020

Corporations and nonprofits are in mutual company in 2020 as new rules and regulations of corporation oversight and employment go into effect. Leadership will have to step up their administrative supervision of their internal processes to ensure they don’t violate new legislature. Luckily, hiring a private investigator to ensure your company is compliant with new administrative legislature at the fraction of a cost to expand your corporation’s internal investigation team.

Sexual Harassment Prevention

Legislature and leadership alike are refocusing their personnel priorities to push sexual harassment to the forefront of their reform. In addition to ratcheting up sexual harassment prevention, but all forms of harassment within their workplace. A recent NLRB decision that would allow leadership to enforce total confidentiality during internal investigation, which will assist the identification of predators within any workforce. Private investigators are ideal candidates to seek out the predator in any corporation or organization, because they can infiltrate the workforce under the radar and collect evidence and testimony that might otherwise be lost.

Immigration, Worksite Enforcement & Background Screening

Employers can look forward to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) increasing oversight on work sites, evaluating hiring processes, and ensuring every employee is able to legally work in the United States. Employers who do not comply will be subject to both civil and criminal penalties that can be devastating to an organization. Private investigators have vast databases at their disposal to obtain work and residency records for potential hire, applying proven screening methods to ensure no personnel are a legal liability.

Independent Contractors

Legislature is also holding companies to a higher standard of responsibility when their independent or sub-contractors incur legal trouble or have grievances against the parent organization. A bill in California known as AB 5 would make it more difficult to classify a worker as an independent or sub-contractor, a measure that would effect employers both in California and throughout the nation. When contractors are successfully classified as such, you’ll need a private investigator on your side to comprehensively vet the situation. With their full investigative toolbox, private investigators can get to the truth about inciting events that led to legal action, collecting evidence, speaking to worksite foremen, and provide comprehensive solutions to employers.

Overtime

Private investigators can also lend their prowess to individuals who believe a corporation is misappropriating funds in order to comply with a Department of Labor measure that requires employers to pay a minimum percentage of total salary in order to satisfy overtime requirements. Private investigators who specialize in financial fraud and misappropriation are able to review a corporation’s internal processes and open-source financial records to document the appropriation of overtime pay.

Data Privacy

With the ubiquity of technology and digital communication systems, corporate data—especially with regard to transparency—is a trending issue in public discourse. Whether through legal channels or otherwise, corporations and organizations need to protect their data from falling into the wrong hands. A private investigator can provide any organization with a risk assessment of both their digital and brick-and-mortar security measures from top to bottom—identifying cracks in the system and providing expert recommendations to ensure internal information stays internal. Private investigators can also identify potential whistleblowers in a workforce by examining individual risk factors and patterns of behavior.

Fishbowl Investigations: Conducting Visible Internal Investigations

Fishbowl Investigations: Conducting Visible Internal Investigations

Corporations that have seen a decline in their corporate culture are turning to internal investigation and risk assessment firms for help in 2020. The discourse around corporate culture has evolved significantly over the last few years, with employees voicing their desire for work-life balance and how corporate culture directly impacts their decision to stay with a company. Leadership is better-educating themselves on how their actions feed into the cycle of corporate culture, and how they can improve employee retention by making meaningful changes that grease the wheels of success in their business or organization. However, many corporations have their anxieties about conducting internal investigations in a fishbowl—where employees are able to see the methodology in motion—and how this will impact their workforce and their business.

Corporations can find themselves open to scrutiny from both their employees and their customer-base when they announce an impending internal investigation. Some corporations, for a myriad of reasons, opt to have internal investigations under a cloak of classification in order to protect the integrity of the investigation—however, in the interest of transparency, many corporations opt for a visible investigation, warning employees, shareholders, customers, or all of the above, of an impending internal investigation. This means that the investigating bodies will be under a microscope of scrutiny within the corporation, as their methodology, decorum, and their practices will a source of debate around the proverbial watercooler.

Regardless of who is contracted to conduct the internal investigation, or under what level of declassification, if there is visibility of an investigation, there is a delicate balance of transparency and professionalism needed in pursuit of the truth. One of the most difficult tasks an internal investigator has at the inception of the investigation is establishing a rapport with relevant parties, such as leadership and the workforce in order to garner frankness from persons who will be crucial to the fact-finding process.

Investigators must establish credibility with the client and relevant subjects in the case. This means ensuring those individuals are aware that the investigator shares their values and is only interested in identifying problems to improve the business—not damage it—indicating a high level of accountability that will have a ripple effect throughout the corporation or organization.

In tandem with establishing credibility, investigators must be straightforward about their objectives, outlining what the client hopes to achieve and their proposed methods of reaching that goal. Investigators must never make promises they cannot keep by making declarations before they know the facts. Corporate investigators must always pursue a resolution to a business’s problem that does not impair their long-term goals—by the same token, it is imperative that the investigator informs the client that there might be some negative consequences as the result of their findings, such as turnover, further inquiries, or bad publicity.

Objectivity is key in any internal investigation. It’s one of the reasons some companies elect to have a private investigator or risk assessment firm conduct their investigation, as opposed to an in-house investigator or member of house counsel. No employee with a stake in the outcome of the investigation, even indirectly, may be 100% objective in identifying pervasive issues in an organization. In addition to that objectivity, an independent investigator—unknown to the corporation or organization—investigators can move through a workplace undetected. This will take the edge off of the “fishbowl” factor that is common with internal corporate investigations. Private investigators can adopt a persona and conduct their investigations without the eyes of concerned coworkers; interviewing employees, collecting evidence, evaluating the location, and reviewing internal communications can all be conducted in plain sight.

Internal corporate investigations with a “fishbowl” factor can be an inherent challenge for corporations. Above all, it’s important to remember that employees are your greatest asset, as they feed into a cycle of corporate culture that can successfully stimulate your business or organization. An appropriate level of trust and care must always be taken when subjecting your workforce to an internal investigation. When employees feel valued, they will become empowered and engaged to give their best to the benefit of your organization.

The Cycle of Corporate Culture

The Cycle of Corporate Culture

Culture can be the beginning and end of your company. Many executives and other members of leadership simply think of corporate culture as what the company stands for. This can be expressed through a corporation’s mission statement, their reported “vision,” or their promise to deliver their customers with the best products and services available. Corporate culture actually goes much deeper, beneath the surface to which the consumer public is privy. The MISTI Training Institute actually defines corporate culture as “the set of enduring and underlying assumptions and norms that determine how things are actually done in the organization.” It is not enough for leadership to state that they have inspiring beliefs and mission statements, if they do not run corporations to reflect those beliefs.

Even after hearing a more definitive explanation of corporate culture, many executives may still shrug their shoulders and insist that they have a great corporate culture. They think operations are streamlined, employees are engaged, and there are no weak links in the chain. They take solace in the fact that they have things like Taco Tuesdays, or Casual Fridays that improve the work environment and keep employees happy. While these are great ways to foster comradery within the workforce, they are band aid solutions to happy employees. The bottom line is: Healthy corporate culture begins with happy employees.

A recent study conducted by Glassdoor indicates that a majority of working individuals in the United States would prefer a healthy corporate culture to a higher salary or rate of pay. Their day-to-day becomes manageable when they feel as if they are part of a larger team. This graphic displays the cyclical nature of healthy corporate culture in motion. The cycle begins with happy employees. When trying to improve employee morale, leadership should strongly consider an internal audit of their company’s culture to identify pervasive issues within their corporation’s operating structure. Events like birthday parties for employees, or buying lunch for the office every few weeks are nice gestures by leadership, but they cannot act as solutions to repetitive issues. When these issues are not addressed within the corporation, employees often feel as if their value begins and ends with their productivity, as if they are cogs in a larger machine they cannot control. When leadership actively engages with employee concern on operation issues and makes dedicated and focused attempts to fix them, employees feel as if their voices are heard and their input is valued within the organization.

This leads to improved engagement on behalf of those valued employees. They are prompt to work, freshly-groomed and instilled with a sense of purpose as their co-workers progress with them towards the organization’s goal. The level of communication between employees will not only improve in quality, but the rate of response to correspondence also has the potential to increase dramatically, because the employees are engaged in the process and are eager to complete tasks on time—possibly even early.

Once employee engagement is up, leadership can expect to see an increase in the productivity of the workforce as a whole. Engaged employees approach their task with the confidence of a professional, and the confidence that comes from the feeling of support within the organization. Studies have shown that productivity can increase by as much as 28% when a corporation’s culture is given a major overhaul.

When productivity increases, everybody in the company benefits. Having their requisites satisfied, leadership can let their focus extend beyond daily operations. This expanded scope of supervision leads to higher engagement on behalf of leadership, which feeds back into a healthy work environment in which they are happy to reward the stellar performance of their employees. When employees feel their work is valued, the cycle begins anew.

This shared body of beliefs that the company claims to have in the public eye should go all the way to the CEO and be directly reflected in the day to day operations of the company. When leadership remains plugged in and continues to expand the scope of their supervision, internal issues cannot pervade within the workplace. In healthy work environments, the level of improvement that can occur week to week will only serve the company’s larger goals.

Active Shooter Events in the Workplace

Active Shooter Events in the Workplace

Virginia legislation placed on notice following the active shooter event in Virginia Beach.

Victims of the Virginia Beach shooting.

In what has seemed like a death from a thousand cuts, the mass active shooter event that occurred on Friday, May 28th at a municipal building in Virginia Beach has inspired action on the part of state leadership. According to USA Today, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has ordered a legislative session devoted to exploring the current climate of gun violence in the United states. At a news conference, Northam said, “The nation is watching. We must do more than our thoughts and prayers. We must give Virginians the action they deserve.”

It was a public works employee who killed 12 people last week—another senseless tragedy in a long line of mass shootings that have spiked in recent years. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, shootings accounted for 79% of all workplace homicides in 2016. Statistics from the Office of Victims of Violent Crime indicate this number has not only risen dramatically but will continue to rise. The number of mass shootings was nearly 2.5 times greater over the last ten years—greater than the mass shootings that occurred between 1998 and 2007.

This infographic displays the number of active shooter events in each state in 2018, per 1 million individuals.

While the governor of Virginia has put the legislation on notice, businesses throughout the nation have put themselves on notice as well, with interest in active shooter training programs for businesses increasing exponentially with each new report of gun violence in the workplace. What’s chilling is OSHA estimates 25% of workplace violence goes unreported.  Yet, many businesses believe events like the ones that transpired in Virginia Beach cannot happen to them.

Many businesses not only believe an active shooter event is unlikely, but that they are, in fact, prepared for one. If you happen to be reading this at your desk, or on a break at your job, do you know the evacuation protocol for your business in the event of an active shooter? Evacuation procedures like these are often explained in personnel materials like handbooks and manuals. But the average employee is not regularly engaged on the topic, let alone received comprehensive education & demonstration of these protocols. It is a morbid, serious subject, and it is not uncommon for management or leadership in a business/organization to be uncomfortable with addressing it, and certainly struggle with addressing it comprehensively.

This downloadable graphic reflects statistical information pertaining to the 220 FBI-designated active shooter incidents that occurred in the United States between 2000-2016. This graphic depicts incidents broken down by location category.

Companies who have decided that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure are investing in contracts with independent investigators to perform risk assessments on their headquarters and locations of business. These investigators consider factors such as the total volume of personnel, layout of the worksite, and security protocol to determine what is needed to keep the employees safe and secure.

These horrific crimes are also placing a heavy financial burden on businesses. Lower & Associates estimates businesses across the United States will lose more than $55 million in employee wages each year due to violence in the workplace. They experience direct losses in the form of medical expenses, workers’ compensation, litigation fees, and indirect losses such as breakdown in operations due to arrested productivity, record-low morale, and public relation nightmares. Not to mention the fact that a business’s preparedness for an active shooter event is literally a matter of life and death.


Lauth & Internal Investigations

Lauth & Internal Investigations

We can provide your business with a solution to their corporate or internal crisis…

internal investigations For businesses, a corporate crisis is not just a reality, it’s an eventuality. From workplace misconduct to theft and fraud, these corporate crises can leave a company devastated from financial or legal repercussions. Such a sweeping blow can leave executives and management bewildered and scratching their heads.

When corporate crises arise, Lauth Investigations International, Inc. is there with specialized intervention, investigation, and illumination for your internal conflict. Using authorized, secure information databases, innovative surveillance technology, Lauth Investigations International, Inc. brings a special brand of integrity and objectivity to every investigation for comprehensive solutions in a complex business world. Internal investigations receive a high degree of objectivity, as our only mission is to find the truth. 

Companies, organizations, and non-profits alike have put their crises in the hands of Lauth Investigations. We can offer assistance in personnel, systemic, and contextual crises through a diverse list of investigation services. Our initiative and autonomy allow us to intervene at any stage in a corporate crisis. From risk assessment to litigation support, our firm’s findings have empowered corporate and non-profit entities to improve their operations and watch their business thrive.  

Our team of qualified, seasoned professionals, composed of veterans, former law enforcement, paralegals, and researchers work with cooperative synergy to bring a comprehensive solution to every client’s internal investigation. This empathetic team prides itself in maintaining quality communications with our clients and remaining accessible in a time of crisis. In pursuit of providing our clients with accurate and thorough findings, we are always furthering our knowledge of the latest investigative methods in procedures by consulting a network of educated contemporary professionals and being well-versed in the latest research.

Companies nationwide have achieved resolutions through our list of diverse investigative services, including:

  • Legal & Attorney Investigations
  • Investigations of CNC Non-Competes
  • Sex, Drug, & Labor Trafficking in the Workplace
  • NGO Undercover Operatives
  • Uncovering Corporate Debtor Assets
  • Corporate Crisis Management
  • Fraud & Forgery Investigations
  • Manufacturing & Industrial Theft Investigations
  • Fraudulent Insurance Claims Investigations
  • FMLA Surveillance and Intelligence
  • White Collar Executive Defense
  • Brand Protection

Don’t wait to hire a private investigator to resolve your corporate crisis. A private investigator can provide you with a comprehensive solution. For a free quote, or more information on our services, please call 317-951-1100.