How do I deal with a vandal employee?

I run a company comprised of 80 staff and we rent office space in a nice block in the centre of town. Business is good, however recently we have been hit by a spate of vandalism which can only have been committed by someone I employ. The gents’ toilets have been targeted three times: a urinal has been damaged, glass has been smashed and rubbish tipped on the floor. No-one seems to know anything and managers are struggling to give me the names of anyone who would be sufficiently disgruntled to do this. What should my next steps be?

A. David Evans writes:

You need to flush out the perpetrator, so that they and not your business end up down the pan! The big question is: who is it? First of all, it may not be one of your employees. The offi ce is in the town centre, so it could be passing trade or it could be maintenance staff. Have you considered the cleaners? They could create damage unobtrusively and no one would be any the wiser.

One suggestion is to employ a toilet monitor, as occurs in many continental conveniences – as well as spotless toilets, this would introduce permanent surveillance which would deter the culprit.

Alternatively, lock up your loos and give keys to two trusted members of staff to keep track of who uses it and when. You should then be able to work out who is causing the damage.

You could also offer incentives to persuade staff to approach you with helpful information that may identify the perpetrator – you must make it clear to employees that the person responsible will be named and shamed as well as reported. That should deal with the vandalism, but depending on who it is, you may not be able to wash your hands of the situation as the problem could be transferred elsewhere in your business.

Consider talking to your staff because they may know what is really happening behind closed doors. If this fails to rectify the situation then additional measures could be taken to discover the perpetrator before they cause even more damage.

As a last resort, you could invest in hidden cameras positioned in key areas of the office and which allow you to monitor your staff at all times. However, this is not recommended because it can lead to a sense of all employees being tarred with the same (toilet) brush.

Ultimately, this is a situation where criminal damage is being inflicted on your business and you are within your rights to involve the police. A warning that you would take this action may be enough to deter any future vandalism and put the lid on the problem.

David Evans is the founder and chairman of Grass Roots, the UK?s leading performance incentive company. The business boasts a turnover of circa ?145m. www.grg.com

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