It will be many years before we have a more detailed understanding of how the Covid crisis has affected employees to resort to being dishonest within the workplace.
Many factors have come into play which will affect an employee’s decision-making which may force them to stray from the lawful moral path, encouraged by external factors for which they initially had no control, which at the time of writing could be loss of employment for a spouse, partner or family member which has caused huge financial implications, or resentment that other employees may have the preferred option of working from home whilst another employee is having to make the daily commute and be within the workplace, understandably concerned that they are being put at risk of infection over the homeworking employee.
Employees that are currently being dishonest or have the intention of being dishonest may also use the current crisis as a mechanism to assist their dishonesty within the workplace. This may be increased by the fact there is less supervision in the workplace, less natural surveillance and less territoriality by employees and many of the existing control measures put in place to prevent and disrupt dishonesty are not as effective at this time as they were previously.
Whilst the subject will be up for much debate a recent case study we had, literary showed the lack of employees within the business, including middle and senior management, temporary restructuring of roles to fill in for the shortage of employees on site allowed the opportunity for two dishonest employees to remove product from the obusiness without fear of being identified and apprehended.
This case is based within the automotive sector where products were stored and have great saleable value away from the business. Due to having less employees within the business to avoid spread of Covid infection, the employees were ’doubling up on roles’ ,thereby giving these two employees opportunity to ‘rove’ the depot at will, wherever and whenever they wanted.
The employees borrowed a transit size van and drove it onto site parking it in a convenient place to assist with the loading of the product from storage area into the vehicle. Whilst CCTV and access control was in place, much of this was overridden due to less security being on site and less maintenance of security cameras, common knowledge being known that many were currently not in service. This enabled the two employees to carry out their theft and drive off-site with their van fully laden with the product.
The product was then advertised for sale on well-known websites and the business was alerted.
At this point I became involved and an investigation took place which identified the offenders and the method of their operation and the evidence was lawfully gathered and they have currently been dismissed from the workplace.
During the interview of the two employees they admitted that it was the fact that there was ‘hardly anyone on site’ and it was ‘easy pickings’ and the reason was it was ‘easy money to make’.
There is nothing to suggest that these employees had previously been dishonest in the workplace, although this cannot be substantiated and they may well have been involved in theft of product prior to the Covid pandemic, but Covid, as the facilitator allowed them to be dishonest in this case.