8 Signs of Employee Apathy

8 Signs of Employee Apathy

How to tell if your employees have checked out…

Employee apathy may seem innocuous enough, but the costs to time and resources can be a slow, devastating drain on a corporation. Many corporations and organizations have at least one employee who exhibits all the major signs of checking out in their daily capacity. Even if your corporation has bulletproofed human resource operations, employee burnout can still occur. That’s why it’s imperative for leadership and management to know and identify the signs of apathy on the part of an employee.  

Signs of Employee Apathy

  • A repeated pattern of tardiness
  • Poor appearance and hygiene
  • Complaints about lack of money and/or repeated attempts to borrow money
  • Exclusive precedence on their personal life
  • An excess of breaks
  • Appearance of being busy with nothing to show for it
  • Lack of accountability, making excuses
  • Irrelevant preoccupation with cell phones, smart devices

It stands to reason that if an employee is underperforming at their job, leadership will cut the dead weight for the good of a corporation. There are actually three umbrella categories that are often used to justify retaining apathetic employees: Costs, Litigation, and Personal.

Costs

The first thing leadership will think of when they notice an apathetic employee is dollar signs. Not only is the apathetic employee hemorrhaging their money by wasting time and resources, but the cost to replace that apathetic employee can also be an issue. Costs are incurred to the human resources department to find, hire, and train a replacement. Employers might hesitate to fire an apathetic employee because of unemployment insurance rates. Another relevant factor specifically effects small businesses, in which the workforce is not large enough to support turnover operations.

Personal

When it’s not a matter of money, it can often be a matter of personal feelings or relationships concerning leadership and the apathetic employee. A manager or owner might have a personal relationship with the employee, and their bias prevents them from pulling the trigger on termination procedures. Personal knowledge of that employee’s personal life and their identity as a person (rather than an employee) can color their perceptions and increase their latitude with the employee. Avoidance behavior can also play a role. When this happens, leadership usually resigns itself to one of two end results: Either the employee will improve on their own without intervention from leadership, or they will leave on their own without termination proceedings.

Litigation

The independent judgement of leadership may not be the sticking point in terminating an apathetic employee. There are often legal factors that a corporation or organization must consider. For instance, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (AEDA) protects employees from being terminated based on their age. If an apathetic employee is of a certain age, leadership may fear legal retaliation, citing age discrimination as the reason for their termination. In higher education, an employee may have tenure as defined by the institution, which would prevent leadership from terminating them.

Risks in Retention

Retaining apathetic employees for any of the reasons listed above can have serious consequences for a company who is avoiding the issue or trying to save money. Apathetic/underperforming employees cannot provide a customer base with quality service, leading to dissatisfaction and consumer complaints. This can negatively impact the corporation’s brand or campaign, with a high risk of human error, loss of valued customers, and lost reputation. Disgruntled employees could potentially say negative things about the corporation on their social media accounts. Perhaps most concerning, apathetic employees can easily spread their attitude throughout a work force, and harm long-term goals for the corporation.

Corporate Culture Audits

One apathetic employee is enough of a drain on company time and resources, but if that attitude is contagious, you could have a larger problem on your hands. Unfortunately, when it comes to employee morale and performance, you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s why so many corporations and organizations are investing in quarterly or even biannual corporate culture audits. With a corporate culture audit, an independent, third party firm, like a private investigator or security company, conducts a full overview of company operations, structure, and environment in order to identify problems at their source for the health of the corporation. With a corporate culture audit, leadership will be able to identify factors that might be contributing to employee apathy.

A Nonprofit Background Check Can Save Your Organization

A Nonprofit Background Check Can Save Your Organization

When putting together a team to supervise your money, it helps to know who you’re dealing with…

Nonprofit organizations can do great work in promoting community growth, providing assistance to those in need, and raising money to fund research in the name of bringing solutions to some of the globe’s most comprehensive issues. These organizations must be above reproach, and as such, their board members must be individuals of the highest integrity. That’s why it’s imperative nonprofit organizations establish policy that dictates board members are subjected to a comprehensive background check.

It’s true that there is no requirement for a nonprofit organization to establish a board of directors, but an overwhelming majority of nonprofits do so. This is often a necessity, as many banks will not establish an account for a nonprofit without supervisory leadership. Donors also consider this leadership essential to ensuring their donations are spent wisely and in the best interest of the cause. In addition, organizations that issue grants are more interested in nonprofits in which their monetary awards are also well-managed, due mostly in part to the fact they must answer for how their monies are allocated.  Small business journal, Chron, put it best, “The board’s duties are fiduciary. This means the board is trusted to act in the best interests of its organization, regardless of personal interest.”

A board of directors for a nonprofit is designed to promote progression within an organization by virtue of diverse management and comprehensive collaboration. Because an organization’s supervisory leadership can depend on their ability to serve their cause, that board must have impenetrable integrity. Therefore, even nonprofits cannot afford to skimp on background checks for leadership.

When establishing a board of directors, there are often misconceptions on what a comprehensive background check encompasses. The term “background check” is an umbrella term that can refer to one or all of a list of screening processes that both organizations and corporations use to verify the employability of an individual. This can include a report that offers details on a person’s criminal and employment history, and a review of their financial history.

A nonprofit background check is the first step in protecting your organization, but not every executive sees it that way. It’s not uncommon for nonprofits to cherry pick through the wide range of areas that a comprehensive background check includes, either to save time and/or money, or because only one or two areas of such a report are a priority for board leadership. Areas of high priority include criminal history, sex offender registry, or a basic credit report. Even if a nonprofit checked all of these boxes when conducting a background check, that would still not rise to the standard of comprehensive when verifying a potential board member’s history.

A comprehensive background check includes:

  • Verification of a candidate’s social security number
  • Work history
  • Credit check
  • Driving records
  • Criminal records
  • Information on registered vehicles
  • Relevant court documents
  • Reference quality
  • Asset ownership
  • Military service records
  • Criminal registry information, such as sex offender registry

This list can sound staggering to the member of staff charged with appropriating an organization’s policy to screen a board candidate’s background. Screening a candidate’s background requires thorough research and a cross-reference of information against multiple open sources, such as public records, human sources, and social media. Even if the cost of obtaining supporting documents were not high, the labor hours to internal employees with day-to-day responsibilities can directly contribute to operational losses within a nonprofit organization.

These comprehensive screenings are crucial to the integrity of a nonprofit. After establishing a board of directors, any previously unknown and unflattering information regarding their history that may come to light cannot only be embarrassing for an organization but can negatively impact the support and assistance those nonprofits receive from donors and grant-awarding bodies. If information regarding a red flag in a board member’s history was publicly available (and not sealed by a court of law, or expunged from their record), and negligence occurs on behalf of the board’s supervisory capacity, there can be legal consequences as well. This is why corporations often run comprehensive background checks on their board of directors, or any other supervisory leadership. If for-profit corporations cannot afford to skimp on their background checks, there is no-doubt that nonprofits have even more at stake, including the opportunity to serve their cause.

Operational losses are why it can be prudent to retain an independent investigator to conduct background checks for a nonprofit organization. Firms like those of private investigators or risk assessment specialists can provide another layer of integrity when considering a candidate for board leadership. An external investigator’s independence and autonomy mean they have no stake in the results of a board candidate’s screening, and therefore only have loyalty to the truth. This is where nonprofits can consider candidates with the reassurance they have performed their due diligence, and have done so with the assistance of an objective third-party. All background screenings must be compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act legislation in disclosing the screening to the candidate.

From poor credit to criminal history, no detail is too small when it comes to establishing a board of directors for a nonprofit. Nonprofits may have marketing campaigns, but board diversity and integrity are how they attract monies from grant entities and major donors. That is why a comprehensive background check is an investment for nonprofits that will provide the security of due diligence with the integrity of independent screening.

5 Cyber Security Measures Every Business Needs

5 Cyber Security Measures Every Business Needs

Cyber criminals are evolving at an alarming rate. Cyber-security product developers are on an infinite loop with felons, each trying to out fox the other with regards to data breaches. Security is absolutely necessary for brick and mortar establishments due to a myriad of reasons, but in 2019, the name of the game is cyber-security. Not only are data breaches an efficient way to steal trade secrets and financial information from businesses, but they can also be done remotely. A proficient hacker or scammer can access a company’s vital company information from halfway across the world, and from that same location, can devastate the company. Within minutes, they can access financial information, trade secrets, distribution and delivery schedules, and private customer information. To prevent this from happening to your business, here are 5 cyber security measures every business should have:

Iron-clad Passwords

This is Internet 101. Since the birth of the World Wide Web, we’ve been educating adults and children alike on the importance of having a strong password to access online accounts. Whether it’s a company’s financial information, or a Grubhub app on an executive’s phone, thieves can crack weak passwords to gain access. As such, it’s important passwords never contain personal information about an individual, especially if that information is visible on social media. Parents often include the name of their kids in their passwords, using their dates of birth for any numerical value requirement. Teens and young adults use the name of their favorite animal, sport, or music artist. Another common tactic is using common words that are easy to remember, and then spelling them backwards for a false sense of security. Experts at the National Cyber Security Alliance also do not recommend using sequences of characters that are near each other on the keyboard, such as “QWERTY,” the first six characters of the keyboard. The current recommended length for strong passwords is between 8-12 characters. If you’re unsure whether or not you password is secure, use an online password checker to verify the passwords level of  cyber security.

Fortified Firewalls

Firewalls have been around almost as long as passwords. Firewalls are shields that protect your business from harmful or insidious traffic. When you connect to the internet, the system is constantly communicating with the wireless network, both sending and receiving units of information known as packets. Firewalls monitor these packets and perform a risk assessment, blocking unsafe packets. These firewalls protect your company’s data from unauthorized remote access by criminals.

Antivirus Protection

Roland Cloutier, the Chief Security Officer for ADP, calls antivirus software “the last line of defense” when protecting your company’s data from hackers and other cyber-criminals. Not only can remote criminals access and view a company’s vital information, but they can also install vicious malware that will copy the target’s hard drive, and subsequently render the machine inoperable. Installing anti-virus and anti-malware programs aren’t enough, though. These programs need to be updated regularly as part of the infinite loop mentioned earlier. Every time a criminal finds a way to bypass an anti-malware product, the product requires changes to combat those breaches.

Laptops and Mobile Phones

It’s important to secure laptop computers and mobile smartphones associated with your business. For this, experts recommend encryption software so any remote felon attempting to access or copy the hard drive cannot do so without the proper password. They also stress the importance of never leaving these devices in ones vehicle, where they are easily accessible to thieves. “Lock-out” options are also standard for these devices in 2019. This setting allows you to establish a time period during which the phone lies idle. After that period expires, the phone locks itself, preventing anyone from accessing it without the password. Smartphones and laptops with remote-wipe features must be enabled. This way, if your device falls into the wrong hands, you can remotely wipe the device and prevent the leak of sensitive company information.

Employee Education

Last, but never least, it’s important your workforce is educated on the security measures in place and regularly enforces them on a day-to-day basis. Companies often neglect employee education under the false impression their IT team will be able to resolve all issues whenever they arise. The fact is, even IT professionals cannot anticipate every cyber threat, and may not be up-to-date on the very latest in cyber-criminal tactics. An ounce of this education is worth a pound of cure—Despite the level of technology literacy in the United States in 2019, an employer or business owner cannot assume an employee’s level of security knowledge. The prevention starts with employees, providing them with an intimate knowledge of company operations and how cyber security measures protect them. 

Regardless of your company’s industry or size, all businesses must update and maintain their cyber security. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when criminals can bypass cyber security, and devastate a company in minutes.

3 Most Common Types of Corporate Crisis

What is a corporate crisis? While exact definitions may differ, a corporate crisis is generally defined as “an event, situation, or public initiative that threatens the company’s ability to effectively operate its business. A crisis can escalate into a disaster or long-term impediment to business growth if not handled with efficiency and sensitivity to all involved.” This is a large umbrella that encompasses many of the internal issues we associate with companies, including (but not limited to) fraud, theft, misconduct, and harassment of all kinds.

A majority of corporate crises fall into one of three categories: personnel, systemic, and contextual.

  1. A personnel crisis is an internal issue that is a direct result of an individual employee or a group of employees’ bad behavior. Theft by personnel is one of the most widely-reported crises in corporations throughout America. The scope of this problem can be as small as stealing office supplies all the way up to executive embezzlement. Sexual harassment is a type of personnel crisis receiving a welcomed new level of attention in corporations. In the age of the #MeToo movement, corporations are viewing their workforce very differently when it comes to identifying potential predators in their midst in the name of a “pound of cure.” Prudent steps taken when vetting potential hires and current employees has saved companies difficulties down the line, especially in legal fees and public relations.
  2. A systemic crisis refers to a major breakdown in operations negatively impacting business. A common example is food service corporations that receive a sudden influx of food poisoning complaints. Source of the outbreak may be traced back to how the supplier or distributor handled the food product, and suddenly, there’s a systemic crisis: A misstep in operations led to a large sum of incidents. Systemic problems manifest themselves in many forms, including external theft. Repeated theft, both in cyberspace and the real world, is often the result of insufficient security within a company. Consequently, the company incurs loss because they remain vulnerable. Companies who have chronic turnover due to employee misconduct may have flaws in their vetting system for potential employees. That is another example of a crucial operation where a breakdown occurs and erodes a company’s profits with labor hours to hire a new individual to fill a vacant position.
  3. A contextual crisis has exponential consequences for a business relative to its size. These are the types of crises that companies cannot anticipate, because they influence public perception of their brand based on real-life events. A major news story like a mass shooting, or a major criminal case, or a lawsuit, can negatively impact a brand even if that event is not directly associated with that company. These external events can drastically change a company’s internal operations, and can weigh heavy on employees at every level. Sexual harassment is another example of this type of crisis in motion. The media coverage regarding high-level Hollywood executives like Harvey Weinstein and his alleged history of abuse have executives in companies of all shapes and sizes revisiting their human resource policies and practices when it comes to addressing sexual misconduct in the workplace. Internal operations receive a major overhaul to the benefit of a healthier work environment for everyone.

When it comes to corporate crises, not all businesses will be able to afford specialized investigators to work in-house to resolve issues that arise. Even if they can afford these professionals, investigators employed by the company—regardless of the quality of their work—by definition cannot provide a truly objective solution to any problem. Because they’re employed by the corporation, they have a potential stake in the outcome of the investigation, whether that stake be real or perceived. Hiring an independent professional, like a licensed private investigator, to conduct an external investigation is the best way to ensure that the solution is objective. This is particularly important personnel crises, because terminating personnel based on an unbiased investigation is kerosene for a disgruntled employee that can manifest itself with many devastating consequences—most commonly wrongful termination lawsuits. Private investigators can assist in systemic crises as well, like the example of repeated thefts with regards to security. Private investigators who specialize in different kinds of risk assessment can identify a company’s vulnerabilities to thieves and scammers, and provide them with a game plan to improve their security.

If your business has encountered a corporate crisis, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free consultation. Learn how we can provide you with an objective solution to your corporate crisis. Call 317-951-1100, or learn more about our services here.

Don’t Wait to Hire a Private Investigator

Don’t Wait to Hire a Private Investigator

lauth investigations Every business—from the mom-and-pop shop to corporate America—will encounter some form of crisis during their operation. Crises come in all shapes and sizes, including employee malingering, internal theft, brand protection, and a myriad of lawsuits that could bring an established business to its knees. When disaster strikes, it is the reflex of most companies to handle the matter internally, often delaying important investigative measures out of uncertainty, ignorance on how to proceed, or both. While an internal investigation allows a company to control available information and minimize any consequences, an independent external investigation conducted by a private investigator is the best course when it comes to finding a comprehensive solution to any corporate crisis. The important thing to remember is you cannot wait when a crisis arises, and hiring a private investigator should be one of the first items on your to-do list.

Independent private investigatiors provide the best solutions from the onset of the investigation. Investigators too often run into roadblocks during investigations because they are working from a narrative and timeline that has already been established by an internal party. When you have a qualified and objective investigator handling the investigation from the beginning, it lays a solid foundation that will lead to credible leads, proper gathering of evidence, and quality conversations with potential witnesses.

During a fact-finding process, internal investigators may not have considered all angles and left many leads unexplored. Potential witnesses within the workforce need to be interviewed and their statements recorded, but an internal investigator—usually a Human Resources representative or upper management employee—may not have the qualifications. Any witness testimony may be tainted because the investigator is not properly trained in interview and rapport. Witness statements could also be false or inconsistent because they fear reprisal from an internal investigator who may have clout when it comes to the employee’s future at that business. When a private investigator is retained weeks after the onset of the investigation, witness’s memories may be inaccurate or even non-existent. In some cases, an employee may have already left the company, or changed addresses. This results in more investigative measures required to locate that employee, which costs money and labor hours to the investigator.

Witness statements are valuable, but not so much as hard evidence that cannot be interpreted for a particular spin. One common example is surveillance footage. An internal investigator may think to pull surveillance footage from a single camera near the site of the incident or crisis, but the investigator may not pull surveillance footage from other cameras that could contain valuable information. Most companies invest in security systems that recycles surveillance tape after a short period of time, sometimes as little as five days. Once an independent private investigator is retained, valuable footage is gone, and other fact-finding measures will be necessary—again, more time and money at the cost to the company.

It is possible for an internal investigation to play out smoothly—at least at first glance. Even if the internal investigator is well-qualified to conduct the investigation, there will always be the question of objectivity when dealing with an internal investigation. A successful investigation that concludes with the termination of an employee who was found to be at fault for the crisis or incident has the potential to result in legal action. In this example, it would be a wrongful-termination suit. When argued in a court of law, it’s easy for the terminated employee to cast doubt on their former employer by citing the investigation into their wrongdoing was conducted by an internal employee with a direct stake in the outcome. When a private investigator handles the investigation from beginning to end, there will never be a question of objectivity, because a private investigator’s task is to find the truth—not manufacture a solution that will mollify their client.

When your company encounters a crisis, do not hesitate to retain a private investigator to find a solution. The time and resources spent on an internal investigation may all be in vain when the chips are down. To protect your business and its profits, take immediate action when a corporate crisis arrives by retaining a private investigator that will provide you with the expertise and objectivity for a successful solution.

If your business has encountered a corporate crisis, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free consultation. Call 317-951-1100 or find us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com