When an employee resorts to the destruction of company property willfully - it needs to be addressed quickly - and correctly.
During a time when I was working as Human Resources Director within several health care facilities I ran across and interesting situation that involved destruction of company property.
I say interesting - because - whenever you are dealing with someone that willfully takes there anger out on something - it is important that you use caution - as you are checking facts. The point is that it involves potential violence - and whenever violence is part of the equation - you must consider it greatly as you proceed - especially if it results in termination.
I had received a report from the employees supervisor that he had witnessed them intentionally kick a hole in the wall. I was a little surprised by this - since I had never experienced someone doing something quite this ridiculous.
Well - checking facts must be a part of any investigation - leaving no stone un-turned.
When I went and looked at the hole - it was not just a simple ding in the wall - it was a large hole that took some real force to create. It was about fifteen inches high - by about ten inches wide - clearly willful destruction of company property.
We went ahead and took pictures of the hole prior to them repairing the wall.
We reviewed the employees records to make sure that he had signed for reading - understanding - signing - and receiving a copy of - the employee handbook - which covered willful destruction of company property. He had signed acknowledging this.
So then we met with the employee.
Again - because there was a chance the employee could turn to violence to express himself we wanted to meet in an area…
…we could get out of quickly - and…
…have a barrier between us and the employee.
During the meeting the employee did say that they did kick the hole in the wall.
They said that they had just received a personal telephone call that made him very upset. He and his wife were having problems. He said that he was sorry for kicking the wall.
The meeting was actually very short.
We decided that this type of behavior was not acceptable - and that we should terminate the employee for destroying company property. Others things to consider prior to arriving at a decision is length of service, their work history, and severity of the incident.
It was kind of funny - what the conversation was when we issued our termination letter to the employee.
First - before mentioning what the conversation was - remember to set the room up like I had mentioned earlier.
Always - think safety of yourself and others. If you have a security officer - which we did not in this case - you may want them close by.
Anyway, while we were issuing the termination letter he said that he could not believe he was being terminated for kicking a hole in the wall. As a matter of fact - he was almost crying.
After he said this - I asked him - what would you do if someone visiting you in your home kicked a hole in the wall.
He without hesitation said - I would just ask them to leave.
I answered immediately - that is what we are asking you to do as well - leave.
To sum up - the reason that we decided to take the course of action was simply due to the fact that it was intentional and a violent act - and the employee had been with us for less than one year. We decided allowing - or giving a second chance - was too risky. If this was the way he responded to an upsetting telephone call - what if he was asked to do something he didn't like. It is easy to get caught up in their emotions - but don’t.
It also sends a message to everyone else in the department that we take their safety very seriously. What we couldn't measure was if others felt unsafe around him after the incident happened. If we would have allowed him a second chance and later he took out his anger on another employee the fallout would have been devastating. Not to mention how I would have personally felt for allowing it to happen because I was not able to follow through on an easy decision.
Good Luck and May God Bless You!