Ask any manager or business owner do they trust all their staff and most will admit they have doubts about some. The rest, they say, are fully trustworthy, honest people, who are never tempted to tell a lie, particularly when it comes to handling cash or valuable stock. So, in such a workforce, how does an owner control the staff they have ‘doubts’ about and reward those who they see as sincere and virtuous?
Usually the first step is to put the trusted staff member in a position of control, designed to ensure they can keep an eye on those who are likely to stray. In this scenario the manager or owner can sleep a bit easier, knowing the ‘good guys’ are in charge.
The assumption, in such a situation, is that someone who is judged to be honest, will never be tempted over to the other side. This raises the further question as to why one person is tempted to pocket someone else’s possessions and the other is not? We can all find examples in our own experience where we had the chance to add an extra receipt to the monthly travel expenses claim, or stick an extra hour’s overtime on the time sheet, which we can justify as being due to us anyway, in return for all the extra ‘unpaid’ time and effort we put in. As a trusted employee we would never be questioned (or caught) for such an ‘indiscretion’.
Therefore, is it really a personal virtue, present in your most trusted supervisor, or is it a fear of being caught? This fear brings about consideration of the punishment and its consequences. Is it worth losing a job which pays €3,000 per month, for a quick cash grab of €300? Probably not. But what if nobody spotted the €300 going missing? It might be very much worth it, if no-one spots the first shortage, to have it quickly become a weekly or monthly activity.
Such an additional income could make that new SUV for the growing family affordable, settle a growing gambling debt, contribute to college fees, or pay for special care needs for an aging parent. It wouldn’t be the only time “I had a great run on the horses” was used as an explanation for this new found wealth, should it get noticed by colleagues or friends.
The assumption, by business owners and/or senior managers, is that the personal circumstances of a trusted colleague could never change enough to tempt them to seek a solution to their financial challenge by leveraging opportunity from their position of trust. For this reason we owe it to our trusted employees to remove temptation, firstly by understanding completely how systems and procedures around them are designed to ensure honesty ‘dilemmas’ are not presented and, secondly, by carrying out regular audits to ensure compliance with stated procedures.
In the end, the trusted staff member will appreciate removal of that temptation, for both themselves and their colleagues, and owners can sleep a little sounder!