Do you have a ticking time bomb employee?

By on January 10, 2014
The Inland Empire's Business Detective.001

By Jeff Stewart

Employees can be your biggest asset and your biggest detriment if not managed properly. You could literally have a ticking time bomb working for you that could explode into complaints with government agencies, unfounded workers’ compensation claims, or worse, a class action lawsuit.

Employees today are quite educated by the media, fellow employees, friends and family in regards to taking legal actions under many circumstances against their employer.

In my 26 years investigating workers’ compensation claims, internal and external theft, embezzlement of company funds and workplace violence; the one common denominator was a lack of communication between the employee and the employer.

There are several common types of ticking time-bomb employees to be on the lookout for, but the “Documenter” is at the top of my list.

Employers have certain expectations of employees that may or may not be reviewed once per year in an annual performance evaluation. In between, circumstances in the workplace may change and expectations from the employer will follow. What generally fails to happen is the employer does not convey this new list of expectations to the employee. When the next annual performance evaluation rolls around, the employer may note and mark the employee down for failure to meet these new expectations. But guess what? Your employee feels the rules were changed mid game as the employer’s expectations of them were never spelled out properly. Guess who feels slighted when they get less than a stellar performance evaluation? You got it; your new disgruntled employee who could turn into a ticking time bomb!

Once disgruntled, the documenter will start to build a “plaintiff” case against the employer by gathering evidence and enlisting other employees who also feel slighted.

The documenters usually keep journals of what their supervisors tell them to do and print out emails or forward them to their private email accounts. The actions of some employees who get into this mind set are very obvious because they want you to know they are documenting everything. They will carry a note pad and write down everything their supervisor tells them and will take copious notes in staff meetings. They may echo back to the supervisor what was said in front of others, but put their own little spin on it.

However, the more damaging documenters are those who remain silent and stealthy. They secretly gather what they perceive to be supporting documentation of how mistreated they are in the workplace, and may eventually take this information to an employment attorney. This attorney may file a class action lawsuit and will enlist the documenter in getting other employees to sign on. Remember, this does not mean they have been mistreated or cheated out of anything. It is however, their perception.

Sometimes these documenters realize they do not have enough evidence to support a legal filing and want revenge. How they go about getting it varies by the position they hold in the company and the access they have to information, company monies and product. Someone in the right position can turn over to the employer’s competition a client list or other proprietary information. Someone else could have access to company bank account information or they can create phony invoices for nonexistent vendors. Worse yet, this employee could become violent. Guess who will be held financially liable for damages for not reacting soon enough?

At S.I.S. Investigations, we have been able to identify these documenter employees for employers who then resolved the underlying issues before they became serious problems.

If you have any questions in regards to this or other types of investigative issues, please contact me for a free consultation at jstewart@stewartcorp.us.

Jeff Stewart is the founder of Stewart Investigative Services, Inc. (S.I.S. Investigations) and has more than 26 years of investigative experience in insurance and corporate investigations. Reach Jeff at (909) 484-1500.