August 2, 2006
Housekeeper needs to do right thing
Our housekeeper, whom we employ through an agency, phoned
us to ask that her workday be postponed. She said the next
day she would call in "sick" to the agency and
then come and work for us. She can help us to sidestep
the agency's overhead fees, pocketing more for herself
and even reducing what we need to pay for her time. What
do you think? I have already said it was OK.
How sad and how short-sighted! Dishonesty comes in many
forms. Stealing and being an accessory to thievery are
not integrity-centered activities. Many relationships
have been tainted by this event, as you have described
it, and more will be. Obviously, you did not consider
the ramifications of saying yes.
This worker is willing to cheat her current employer.
What are the chances she will cheat you?
Your decision to "go along" with this fraud communicates that you are
willing to violate a contract between you and a supplier. What does this tell
the employee about your loyalty and integrity?
Your friends and neighbors, as well as members of your
family, will learn, sooner or later, that you took
advantage of a supplier. In this instance it is an
agency that earns its fees by providing background
information on employees and insurance as well as replacements
when a worker cannot or does not show up at the appointed
You have made a mistake. When
this situation arose, there was an integrity-centered
response, and you might have said: "We work with
your agency. If you leave the agency, then we can discuss
how we might work together, directly. However, we honor
relationships, personal and professional, and you have
now communicated that you do not. You must address this
with the agency or you risk our continuing to work with
What choice do you have now? Should you report the employee
to the agency? Certainly you have now complicated your
life with your decision to participate in the dishonest
manipulation, having her work for you while cutting out the agency. Who can possibly
come out of this without smelling badly?
When you chose to "go along
to get along," you started a snowball down
a steep hill. Ignoring courtesy, professionalism, integrity and simple rules
of good business, you, the agency and an employee have now begun a slide down
a value-violated ravine.
Cut your losses and stay with the agency, if it will
still work with you.
Nothing much good emerges from relationships built on
lying, cheating and stealing - whether for a little or