8 Tips on How to Handle an Employee Who Lies

You’ve noticed a pattern in the behaviour of one of your employees—he or she has been lying. What now? While your instinct may tell you to call them out on the spot, it is important to wait and gather further information. At first, you may have only hearsay or rumours to work with; you will need details and even documentation before you can act with confidence.

Once you determine the severity of the issue and have good evidence in hand, you can take your next steps with clarity. If you’ve been wondering how to handle an employee who lies, here are eight business tips to consider:

1. Determine the Extent of the Problem

In order to handle an employee who lies, determining the extent of the problem is a must. Naturally, you want to have a good understanding of this problem before you set about finding a solution. Is your employee lying about stealing food from the staff fridge or stealing resources from the company?

You will also need to know if they lied for a single event or have a pattern of lies. Doing your research on this front will help to determine the severity of the situation and what your next steps will be.

2. Document the Facts

As with any investigation, you need a record of the facts. If you’ve had employees come to you with complaints, schedule a private interview to speak in detail about the events in question.

Follow up with other witnesses and create a document with as much evidence as you can. The trick with this step is to keep your investigation as small and as quiet as possible.

3. Speak with Human Resources

Once you have a good understanding of the issues at hand, it may be time to lay things out for human resources. If the lies in question can be easily addressed—perhaps your employee lied about details of a project they were working on—human resources may have helpful language for you to use in a private conversation.

If you have a larger issue on your hands, perhaps lying that amounts to stealing, you will want human resources to help you lay out a strategy for communication and confrontation.

4. Secure a Private Conversation

Once you are confident about the details, and / or once you have the go-ahead from human resources, you likely want to have a private, one-on-one conversation with the employee who has been lying. Sometimes, lying is used as a protective measure, shielding individuals from minor items that he or she may find embarrassing.

In this case, a private conversation can quickly clear things up. In the case of broader, more disruptive lies, with the blessing of human resources, you may still want to have an honest one-on-one conversation with your employee, giving him or her the chance to come clean or explain their mistakes.

5. Speak Clearly to Your Team

Naturally, one employee can create havoc within an office if they are acting in a way that is deceitful. If you have one employee lying, creating problems for others, you almost certainly have a secondary problem—the office rumour mill.

In order to prevent the spread of misinformation, have an open meeting with those directly impacted. Let them know you are aware of the issue, tell them what is being done to make things right and allow them to ask questions.

6. Have Clear Expectations

In speaking to both your employee and his or her co-workers, make sure your expectations regarding the future are crystal clear. If you want a formal apology, make sure you ask for it.

If you want consequences set for similar lies in the future, make sure this is widely known and understood. In closing, let your staff know that shaming and gossip are not welcome.

7. Consider Termination

Of course, some workplace offenses require more than apologies and a promise to do better. If you are certain your employee has been lying for personal gain, stealing from your company or lying to the detriment of others, you will likely need to terminate their employment.

If you have clear evidence of the wrong-doing, backed by the support of HR and even your legal team, move forward quickly with the termination process.

8. Seek Professional Help

Sometimes a suspected troublemaker can avoid their misdeeds being aired in broad daylight. If you suspect an employee is getting away with lies, consider hiring a corporate investigation service to track them, either digitally or physically. This is especially useful if your workplace has a culture of employees protecting one another through silence.

Workplace lies can range from misusing a company gas card to intentionally spreading lies about others. Whether the lies are out in the open or hidden from view, they will have a toxic impact on your workplace, unless you get to the bottom of them. If you’ve been wondering how to handle an employee who lies, we hope these ideas have been useful.