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Thread: Finding ghost employees.

  1. #1
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Finding ghost employees.

    I've just discovered we've paid an "employee" for a month's work where the employee hasn't reported for work all month.

    He was not included in the "absentee" list that is used when the payroll is generated, an oversite by the person responsible for generating that list. He was marked absent for the first week of the month in our attendance sheets, and then dropped off the attendance sheets for the following weeks. Another oversight by the same responsible person?

    It's only hit the fan now because the payslip came back unsigned - possibly because the responsibility for getting payslips signed lies with someone else.

    Clearly a case of the employee has absconded, or has had some serious mishap. But we're not that big a company. How the heck could I not hear that the guy had gone?

    The whole episode has made me think about how large organisations manage this. We hear stories of ghost employees in government, perhaps it happens in large businesses too?

    What organisational procedures are needed to prevent this sort of thing?
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  2. #2
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    OMW!! Rest assured Dave it is not the worst I have heard. A courier company had an extremely reliable and trustworthy delivery man who worked Sandton area for 2 years before ANY manager in the office realised that he could not speak a WORD of English!

    How do you prevent this?

    A couple of ideas:

    1. "Back to the floor" for you and your managers - helps awareness of challenges faced on a daily basis.
    2. 5 line reports on each employees performance for week (fortnight) from supervisor - helps you to identify good guys and make a plan to keep them. Helps identify issues and problems way before they escalate out of control.
    3. 3 line reports from each employee re: supervisor - 365 degree reporting. Doesn't have to be formal - simply regular.
    4. Asking employee feedback monthly on what they thought worked, what didn't etc etc - careful not to make this a wish list and equally careful to give praise where and when it is due ,when they do come up with the huge savings idea!
    5. With the little bit of knowledge I have available to me, I would be inclined to say this is a classic communication breakdown.

    a poem about responsibility

    There was a most important job that needed to be done,
    And no reason not to do it, there was absolutely none.
    But in vital matters such as this, the thing you have to ask
    Is who exactly will it be who'll carry out the task?

    Anybody could have told you that everybody knew
    That this was something somebody would surely have to do.
    Nobody was unwilling; anybody had the ability.
    But nobody believed that it was their responsibility.

    It seemed to be a job that anybody could have done,
    If anybody thought he was supposed to be the one.
    But since everybody recognised that anybody could,
    Everybody took for granted that somebody would.

    But nobody told anybody that we are aware of,
    That he would be in charge of seeing it was taken care of.
    And nobody took it on himself to follow through,
    And do what everybody thought that somebody would do.

    When what everybody needed so did not get done at all,
    Everybody was complaining that somebody dropped the ball.
    Anybody then could see it was an awful crying shame,
    And everybody looked around for somebody to blame.

    Somebody should have done the job
    And Everybody should have,
    But in the end Nobody did
    What Anybody could have.

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    Debbie
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    Silver Member Vincent's Avatar
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    Depending on how many employees you have, you could take the weekly pay-packets personally, and make each employee sign for their wages in front of you with the manager present. If the employee is absent, they can collect Monday...

    We did this with a company, which is based JHB that owned a farm in Mussina. The owners drove up assembled all the farm labourers, with the farm manager and paid out the workers. There were ten pay-packets left over. The manager had 'no idea' where the other labourers were. It was difficult to prove that he pocketed the money, but with the cooperation of the workers, the manager was finally dismissed.
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  4. #4
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the input so far. I'm still interested in how everyone does it, so any other ideas most welcome. My problem is never having worked for an employer, my systems are pretty much self-invented. So I'm always on the look-out for a better way to do things.

    Just for a bit more background info on how we do things:
    • We pay monthly, and only by direct transfer into bank accounts. No cash on the premises.
    • I'm not entirely unhappy. We caught the problem quite promptly all said and done. A case of spreading various activities so that there is a built-in cross-check.
    • The main failure was to not report the absenteeism in the monthly report designed specifically for this purpose. Problem identified and will be rectified.
    • I was actually delighted that the organisation had adapted to the loss of an employee without any involvement or even knowledge from my side.

    I vaguely recall talking some time ago about the fact that I was engineering our systems so that if something wasn't done right, there was some other activity that would inadvertently reveal the failure. It worked in this instance - although I would have preferred catching the problem before I'd paid out a month's salary (which looks like it's irrecoverable).

    What amazed me is how easily something like this can happen.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    [*]I was actually delighted that the organisation had adapted to the loss of an employee without any involvement or even knowledge from my side.[/LIST]
    Dave I personally would be horrified. My interpretation would immediately be .......who else is cruising at 10% capacity and won't be missed. Why are we overstaffed? Where are the job specs? What new system made this guy's services redundant and why did no-one (including him) tell me 3 months ago that he was not really doing anything? IMO there is definitely a shortfall in the procedure, but of a bigger concern is the lack of team work and question mark it places on efficiency levels. No offense meant. I would also love to hear what others say!
    Regards

    Debbie
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debbiedle View Post
    I would also love to hear what others say!
    So would I.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  7. #7
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    It looks like it's just you and me, Debbie. So here's my thought.

    Perhaps the crux of the issue is whether I'm supposed to know. If my goal is delegation, then the organisation dealing with losses and additions to the lower ranks without my knowledge is surely good news.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  8. #8
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    Dave I have to agree, that you should not need to know about every person in and out, but "someone" should. The fact that a salary was paid to a "ghost" indicates that nobody knew or cared or was informed enough to do something about it? Or even worse, that you were deliberately misinformed. All of these are problematical.

    Plus nobody missed him! What was he actually achieving/doing? How long has he been receiving a salary for not doing his job? How many others are cruising at 5mph? Who is checking on productivity levels, is there a trustworthy person who is knowledgable about productivity of staff? The only way someone is not missed at all is if he does nothing at all.

    What systems?
    1. Definitely check if you are losing the personal touch in the organisation...back to the floor, 10min contact sessions, open door policy, team building etc.
    2. Attendance Register, plus cross checks.
    3. Team supervisor report not only on clients, ideas, challenges and solutions but on each team member.
    4. Debriefing and Briefing power meetings - put staff/skills/motivation on the agenda.

    Hope it helps a bit
    Regards

    Debbie
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  9. #9
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debbiedle View Post
    3. Team supervisor report not only on clients, ideas, challenges and solutions but on each team member.
    That one can be quite a challenge. I've found a tendency for that sort of reporting to be rather strongly coloured by the state of interaction between supervisors and their subordinates, rather than ability and productivity.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  10. #10
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Dave, how many people are there in your organisation?
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