How to Respond to Theft, Deceit, and Idleness of Employees

How to Respond to Theft, Deceit, and Idleness of Employees

As an employer, one of the predominant tasks you will need to focus on is keeping your employees productive and in line. For most employees performing their tasks to the best of their abilities will come relatively naturally, but someone might always take advantage of the company they are working for. Theft, deceit, and idleness can all be considered sharp knives that would harm your company if you do not have the right techniques and policies to respond to them.

In this article, we will explore three separate cases examining theft, deceit, and idleness respectively. Before doing so, an understanding of what these three exactly entail is necessary.

What is employee theft?

Employee theft refers to employees stealing from their employers. There are varying degrees of employee theft. Embezzlement is the most commonly known as it refers to an employee who abuses the corporate resources - money or properties - in their care. Pilferage is another name for employee theft that refers to smaller quantities being stolen.

Generally, employee theft commonly falls along the lines of occupational fraud, which is the use of one's occupation as a way of personal enrichment through misusing or misallocating the company resources.

What is employee deceit?

Employee deceit, which usually falls under employee fraud, refers to an employee telling lies or being deceiving to gain more from their employer. Data theft, breaking confidentiality, accounting fraud, bribery, and even certain types of theft fall under the category of employee deceit.

What is employee idleness?

Employee idleness comes in a variety of versions and essentially deals with employees who are wasting their hours on tasks other than their work during work hours. Whether the reason for employee idleness is procrastination, meaning that the employee is in the office or logged on during work hours but not completing their tasks, or whether they are taking multiple sick days or are absent from meetings without any good excuse, these are all hours that the employee should have spent working and instead was absent.

Other versions of idleness can usually be seen around the office as well. Certain employees might constantly find excuses about why they failed to complete their tasks, attend a meeting or even be there on time. These employees typically exhibit signs of laziness when it comes to their work. Finally, some spent their work hours distracted and socializing with everyone in the office, moving from desk to desk. These employees are usually idle for quite a lot of time without even realizing it.

So, what are some case studies for theft, deceit, and idleness, and how should you, as an employer, respond?

A talented employee accidentally revealed a commercial secret to a competitor. Should you fire them or retrain and closely monitor them?

The leakage of confidential information to an unauthorized third party can be one of the biggest issues a company has to face. When you first discover there is a leak, there are a few different steps you will need to take. These steps will help you better understand what went wrong, as well as provide you with more effective tools for amending the situation.

In the case of your employee accidentally revealing commercial secrets to a competitor, the first thing you will need to determine is exactly how the leak happened. Usually, there are two options in this case. The first is that the employee in question did not follow the security policies for securing the document and data you have on file. That led to a competitor gaining access to your company's data.

For this, they sacrificed a number of planned topics but they were very pleased with the result.

In this case, while the employee unintentionally aided your competitor in gaining access to company secrets, they did access data and perform tasks without following the protocols and policies that your company had in place. Therefore, it would be up to you to determine how to proceed.

Normally, re-training is necessary in these cases. Besides, you will need to ensure that none of your employees will make the same mistakes. Simply restricting the employee's access to data and information will not always work in these cases. That is why it is often best to consider what specific changes are required to how the employees are trained so that greater trust within the company can be established.

If the reason for the data leakage was not that the employee had accidentally not followed the correct procedures, but because there were no proper policies in place that could have averted that situation from occurring, then the mistake does not lie with the employee. As the employer, it will be up to you to own up to the oversight and start creating new policies that will help protect your data and stop such an occurrence from happening again.

However, if the way that your employee shared that information unintentionally, was by sharing information with the wrong recipient or any third party who should not have access to the information, then you will need to examine your options again. If your employee shared with a third party, and that is how the information fell into the hands of your competitor, that is still a breach of confidentiality. Depending on your industry, this might result in the immediate termination of your employee's contract, or further training.

It will be up to you to determine the severity of the situation and what exactly happened to decide whether to terminate your employees' contract or simply offer them more training. The nature of the situation will also help you decide whether monitoring your employee more extensively could be a good solution.

If you decide to retain the employee, it may be good to put them on closer monitoring to take precautions. You may find more information about employee monitoring systems and how to choose the best one here.

Monitoring with CleverControl shows that an employee spends half of their workday on YouTube. Should they be fired, or should you reexamine their tasks, workload, and interest in their work?

Monitoring with CleverControl provides you with a lot of insight into what your employee is doing and how they spend their work time. If it comes up that an employee has been spending half of their day on YouTube, you might be wondering if this is a firing offense. Well, before deciding, these are a few of the different things you will need to determine.

How should you respond?

While in the first case, a discussion might be enough, as the employee is simply doing what helps them perform best, in the second case, you will need serious talk with your employee. In cases of intentional idleness, you will need to find out why your employee lacks enthusiasm and work ethic.

A good practice would be to put them on probation for a period and monitor their actions more extensively. If they continue to follow the same practices of procrastinating on YouTube and not working even after your discussion, you might be better off terminating their contract.

Monitoring with CleverControl showed that an employee visits job sites and is looking for a new job during their work hours. They also save their work data on a flash drive. Should they be fired or not?

If your employees are spending their work hours looking for other jobs, that shows they are not committed to your company or the work that you are doing. You should discuss this with your employee and inform them that these searches during work hours are not permitted. You should also try to find out why they are dissatisfied and are trying to find a new job. It could potentially help your company alter its policies so that you are best able to retain talent.

Whether you fire them for these searches will largely depend on whether they complete their tasks on time. If your employee continues to be diligent with their work and is simply looking to move on or forward from your company, there is no reason for you to fire them yet. However, set clear expectations of what you anticipate of them during their time in office, as well as in terms of finding and training their replacement on time.

However, if that employee is also saving their work data on a flash drive, you have much larger problems to deal with than the fact that they are looking for another job. Data theft of this sort usually falls under corporate espionage or can sometimes be used as an underhanded competition tactic. The information that your employee is saving on the flash drive is not only unprotected once it leaves your premises but it could also be leaked, which would cause damage to your company.

If you find that one of your employees is intentionally storing work data on such a device, you will need to launch an investigation to figure out why they have been doing so, what data they have stored, and who else might have gained access to it.

In most cases, this is grounds for the termination of the employee's contract as they have taken deliberate actions that could hurt your business and your clients if that sensitive information is leaked. Securing the information should be your top priority in these cases.

You should also examine your existing policies to ensure this does not happen again. High security and information protection policies can be necessary if you want to keep your company's data protected. Non-disclosure agreements and tracking of the sharing and movement of sensitive information can also help you keep your information safer, as well as be able to track where a data breach came from.

Greater monitoring of data can help protect your company. However, this should be a company-wide policy and not something directed to that one employee who made the intentional choice of breaching your confidentiality and security. They most likely should be fired because they attempted to steal data.


How employees handle situations relating to theft, deceit, and idleness will always vary based on the exact nature of the situation. More training and monitoring can be great ways of keeping your company running smoothly when something goes wrong. However, there are some occasions when terminating someone's contract is a necessary step for protecting your company.

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