Finding out that you and your business have fallen victim to sabotage is awful. Uncovering that the damage was done from the inside and it was an employee who caused it can be even harder to swallow.
After dealing with the initial shock and disappointment of the situation you’ll want answers.
Why has this happened? How has it happened? And what needs to be done to make sure it never happens again?
It’s possible that your risk analysis has typically been focused elsewhere until now. Such as keeping a keen eye on a bitter competitor or alerting staff to a vocally dissatisfied customer. Afterall, it’s perhaps easier to accept that someone wishing harm on your business isn’t on your payroll.
The unfortunate truth is that employee sabotage is a thing. The good news is that there are processes that you can put in place to increase protection.
Types of employee sabotage
You could be dealing with varying degrees of employee sabotage, such as:
-A disgruntled employee repeatedly acting up after missing a promotion.
-An online smear campaign caused by an employee with a grudge.
-An employee having a very competitive side hustle.
-A developer deleting crucial code during their notice period.
-An outspoken employee coercing others against the employer.
-A trouble making employee spreading gossip (often on platforms such as Slack or WhatsApp)
Each problem will require a case by case resolution. But there are approaches you can follow to manage them effectively, mitigate risk and help your defence should the problem lead to tribunal.
Tips to prevent employee sabotage
1. Start at the beginning. A thorough recruitment process can help to make sure you are hiring employees that are a good fit for your business. Comprehensive reference checks, a reliable interview process and employee vetting can highlight causes of concern early on.
2. Need to know basis. With information sharing in mind, it’s wise to consider who needs to know what and how much. Updating managers and employees is beneficial but you’ll also need to protect yourself when it comes to sensitive data.
3. Policies for protection. Policies are a good way to inform employees of your expectations and can help you to manage a difficult employee. Policies on social media use, conduct and data protection can all help to provide a solution in the event of employee sabotage.
4. A time and place for feedback. Regular reviews offer an opportunity to pick up on potential problems. You can use this time for feedback and to look for a resolution. Correct documentation is essential should you need to refer back to previous meetings.
5. Don’t skimp on security. Change passcodes and revoke access when employees leave, or sooner if the situation is urgent. You’ll also want to protect your online brand reputation. Use social media listening to watch for brand mentions and address any online grievances.
6. Company culture. An inclusive and diverse culture that promotes employee voice can keep you in touch with the overall well-being of your workforce. If trouble is brewing, it could be time to collect feedback or consider a team-building away day.
7. Be clear on the purpose of WhatsApp, Slack or other communication channels. It’s common for businesses to set up work WhatsApp groups (or Slack) but if the content of the chat is not moderated, it is easy for it to become a place for misplaced chat. Employers can mitigate the risk by being clear what the purpose of the platform is, that it’s understood and you are clear on what is acceptable and not. Failing to do so could leave you liable for any hurt caused ( vicarious liability) or having to deal with grievances.
Whether you are in the midst of suspected employee sabotage or want to know how best to protect your business in the future, The HR Dept Newcastle can offer up some practical and pragmatic advice.