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Employee revenge can spell doom to a company

by Garland M Baker on August 8, 2011

Today’s employee could be a company’s worst enemy tomorrow. If an employee turns, some will do as much harm as they can to their employer.

There are three important rules to finding and keeping a good employee: selection, training and remuneration. Even after going through a strict selection process, training employees extensively and paying them well, a day could come when they turn on the company.

There does not need to be a particularly good reason for this to happen. An employee may just decide to find another job, move on with their lives or decide they do not want to work anymore. Whatever the reason, many employees – especially in Costa Rica – see easy money by accusing their boss and/or others in their company of mistreatment. Even though this strategy knows no sex, women employees know they can stretch their charges farther than men.

This is due to Costa Rica’s stringent domestic violence laws where women use them to their own advantage to harass — and even steal from — men. The chance of an employer winning in a labor case is slim. A man winning a domestic violence case is also equally unlikely. A loss in a labor case can cost an employer thousands of dollars.

What should an employer do? Employees are usually a necessity in a business. The answer is to do things by the book as much as possible considering the labor laws are confusing to most expats. When in doubt, expats should ask a legal professional. Many of them do not know the answers either. The labor ministry is full of people who can answer questions, but few speak English. The ministry’s new Web site is very good. Many queries can be answered by a visit to http://www.mtss.go.cr/

The best rule of thumb is to have a written set of rules, and if an employee violates one twice, fire him or her the third time. Here is a very important fact to remember. Any fault expires after one month. If an employer does not reprimand an employee for a fault within that time frame, they lose the chance to do so.

Remember, a disgruntled employee will use everything and anything in their power or possession to fight a battle with an employer. They will even make things up and offer false witnesses to testify in a labor case. Judges are more inclined to listen more to an employee than to an employer due to the legal principle in dubio pro operario, or “when in doubt favor the worker.” Keeping paperwork is essential.

Today when everything is on a computer or portable device, an employer must have a plan so an employee cannot steal important company information. This includes, but is not limited to, passwords, financial statements, credit card information and company as well as personal secrets.

Employers should plan for the eventuality that an employee may leave – usually it is more the case when they leave not if they leave – and first and foremost protect company information, especially, the information on computers.

A bad employee can do much worse than simply leave the door open for an office theft. Having the passwords to go along with the data can put the entire business out the door with the computers. Often the critical data can fit easily onto a portable hard drive or memory stick.

Worse yet is when the disgruntled employee is also the company computer expert. A business owner can find himself in a battle of wits with the very person trusted to protect the computers.

One solution to protect data is cloud computing, and while it may not yet be practical to keep everything in the cloud, it is now quite possible to put the keys to the data into the off-site Internet cloud.

Microsoft Bit Locker, a feature of Windows 7, when combined with the right server software, can control computer data even when it leaves the office. Information copied onto an external disk is transparently encrypted so that it becomes totally inaccessible once the employee’s access is revoked.

Businesses can now trust their employees to work from home with sensitive data knowing that it remains safe from theft and can be revoked the minute the employee is off the payroll.

Stolen laptop computers are equally inaccessible, and attempts to retrieve the data directly from the hard disk using other computers or recovery software are impossible thanks to strong encryption.

The key feature that makes Bit Locker work is a Windows Server running Active Directory. While in the past the investment in computer hardware and trained IT staff to support it may have been out of reach for smaller businesses, the Internet cloud now makes it possible to outsource the data keys to a trusted partner.

Protecting a company’s computers in a breakup with an employee is only one area of concern, but one of the most important and should be on the top of the business continuity plan.

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