Emotions run high when employee actions embarrass the employer. The more public the incident the more the employee’s blood tends to boil. Although it is completely understandable for the employer to be frustrated, level heads are required for managing the situation.
Things to consider:
1) Employers must investigate. Regardless of what is reported or claimed, every allegation should be investigated. This means looking at the situation, interviewing witnesses, interviewing the suspected employee and looking for any evidence of what happened. Employers are not expected to be CSI experts, but reasonable confirmation of events should be considered. Examples of this can include verifying swipe cards to confirm entry into a building, Internet usage logs, or confirmation of what charges have been laid.
2) Consider the facts. Once the information has been gathered, it needs to be viewed and weighed against a balance of probabilities as to what occurred. What does this mean? Simply put, if all the evidence suggesting that the employee did something wrong was put on one side of a scale and all of the evidence suggesting either the employee did not do something wrong or that someone else could have been responsible for the action was put on the either side of the scale; which side would be heavier?
3) Discipline. If discipline is warranted, remember it is meant to be corrective not punitive. How much discipline is required to correct the behaviour?
4) Relationships. Can the employee/employer relationship be repaired or is the action so egregious that trust has permanently been eroded? Be careful inserting this question. Your response should not be emotional but rather a logical assessment of how much the employee’s actions impact their ability to perform day to day tasks. Remember, how you handle this issue will also impact the employee’s relationship with other employees and the amount those employees trust the employer.
Simply put, acknowledge your first reaction is likely an emotional one. Allow yourself time to process all of the available information. Sleep on it. Is it still what you consider rationale? If it were you who committed the ‘offence’, what do you think would be a fair punishment?