Melissa, 36, had worked for a small pharmaceutical laboratory for 12 years, almost since its inception. She was well known and well liked, mostly because she was good fun. Everyone knew she liked the local clubs for a drink and dabble on the pokies. In January, Melissa came back to work from Christmas holidays less motivated than normal. Word got out that she had separated from her husband. During the next few months, Melissa’s demeanour and behaviour changed; she often arrived late and left early, and she was distracted and took a lot of calls outside on her mobile phone. Everyone put this down to the separation.
One weekend, the laboratory was burgled, and a large volume of a chemical used to produce methamphetamines was stolen. There appeared to be no sign of forced entry. Melissa called in sick that week, but no-one took too much notice.
The following week, Melissa was arrested. The company’s chief executive officer (CEO) called a staff meeting to explain that Melissa had amassed a serious gambling debt and, in the process, dealt with a well-known criminal network. She wasn’t able to repay some of her debt and, with her and her family’s safety under threat, had provided access to the thieves.
The CEO told staff that Melissa was very apologetic and upset when interviewed by police. She also said she had tried to send signs to a few colleagues that she was in trouble as she was too scared to tell anyone directly. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months in prison. Her husband took custody of their three children, and their house was sold to repay some of the debt. The chemicals were not recovered, although police had three suspects and were continuing their investigation.
What did not happen?
X Identify significant changes in an employee’s personal circumstances.
X Note when an employee seems under considerable stress.
X Check whether all employees need after-hours access.
X Support and engage with the employee throughout periods of stress
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