When you suspect, or have already confirmed, that an employee is abusing your company with their misconduct, it can be hard to figure out what to do next. When situations of employee misconduct occur, they often fall on the shoulders of the company’s CFO and HR department. As the CFO scrambles to handle the devastating loss of product and revenue, the HR department needs to investigate the case, come to a conclusion, and carry out the appropriate action. Often times these already sensitive issues are compounded by the fact that the employee in question has personal relationships with everyone in the company, and the HR officers and CFO can be affected by the emotional implications of betrayal, suspicion, confusion, and anger.
As the CFO and HR department work together to recover the losses of a case of employee theft, it is common to invest in the help of private investigators and police officers. However, finding and employing help can in itself be an overwhelming endeavor when someone is inexperienced in these issues. This blog post is intended to help those dealing with a case of employee misconduct navigate when and how to hire outside help, and how to handle the process.
Hiring the right investigator – The first thing that a department official should consider when looking to hire a private investigator is that different investigators have different domain specialities.
Many P.I.’s focus primarily on personal investigative issues such as
- missing persons
- cases of suspected infidelity,
- Divorce/custody cases
- Theft from a friend or family member
However, there are specific P.I.’s who specialize in corporate P.I. cases. These corporate cases can be anything from helping attorneys with legal investigations to investigating cases of employee fraud.
Investigators are further divided by firm type. There are a growing number of national investigation firms that farm out cases to local branches. There are also the more traditional local private investigation offices that target specific demographics and specialize in regional issues. Finding the right investigator will require researching the different options available in your area and making sure you find an investigator that serves your industry and personal needs.
Investigating the case- After hiring a private investigator, the best thing to do is to pass over the investigation to him or her. This is because looking into the history of an employee while respecting his or her rights can be a difficult maze to navigate. Private investigators are well versed on the best practices of investigation and the laws surrounding the practice, so they will be better at walking the fine lines of legality while still conducting a thorough research. Even more importantly, private investigators are personally detached from the case, and therefore will be able to research and investigate without the feelings of betrayal, frustration and hurt that often arise in these situations. It may sound like a minor detail, but passing over the case to someone with some perspective and objectivity often leads to more peaceful resolutions and better results.
Handling personnel- While investigating an employee, confidentiality and proper handling of the rest of your employees as well as the employee in question is of the utmost importance. Remember these few tips:
- For no reason should anyone be brought into the case unless it is absolutely necessary, and all operations in the office should continue as they normally would.
- In general, the HR department and CFO should work hard to ensure that it is business as usual as much as possible.
- When cases such as these arise, it is difficult and unsettling for every employee in the company, not just those directly involved. Maintaining stability and a sense of trust is extremely important when going through an employee investigation, and a private investigator can help you maintain this stability.
Making up for losses- It can be frustrating and anxiety inducing when a case of employee theft has left the company in a loss. It is important for the CFO of the company to remain calm, focused, and determined when this occurs. A CFO must assume that even if the employee is brought to court and found guilty, they will almost definitely not receive full compensation for damages. This means that it is the job of the CFO to get creative and craft a plan for recuping losses without putting unnecessary pressures on the other employees. Reducing cost wherever possible can be an option, but in the long run, it can be better to absorb the loss and work to slowly and consistently increase revenue over time. Patience, strategy, and initiative are key in these moments, and the right private investigator can help you with some best practices for mitigating damages.
Doing better next time- Cases of employee theft are never the fault of the employer, however there are always things you can do to protect yourself from this happening again. If you do not already do so, make sure to conduct thorough background checks of all potential hires and implement proper surveillance technology on your company premises. The added security is always worth it to ensure that you are at peace with your company and employees.
Finding out that an employee has taken advantage of your company is never easy. But hiring the right help and staying calm in the moment can make a world of difference.