We are a small company with the main focus on eCommerce. Sometimes we are also present at fairs to sell our products. Our stand is always pretty simple: It's just a row of tables (11m long, 0.6m deep - the rest is not relevant for this question). The main till is on a table within the stand, as depicted here (sorry for my bad drawing skills):
There's a 0.5m space between our and the neighbour's stand, "sealed" by a shelf standing about 0.5m deep.
There are 4 of us and we all have purses so we don't have to run back and forth to the main till. One employee went on a break and left her purse right beside the main till. When she came back she noticed that it was gone with all the 2500-3000€ in it.
Now what is an appropriate reaction to this? Me and another colleague are the owners of the stand and therefore the employers, but we have very different perspectives on that issue. His points are:
- Somebody has to be held responsible for this
- It should have been obvious that this was not the best place to put the purse (mainly because it would have been easy for our neighbours to grab it, which I consider highly unlikely for multiple reasons)
- When I asked why he didn't put it away when he saw it there (he said that he did) he answered that he could not take care of everything (to be fair: we were extremely busy during that time)
But I don't agree at all.
I don't think it was obviously careless to put the purse there. Yes, somebody could have reached it if they really wanted to (we tried ourselves after that), but that possibility wasn't really obvious before and it required more effort than just stretching out the hand. Also, the 0.5m wide space between our and the neighbour's stand wasn't meant to be walkable for visitors since there was nothing of interest for them
The stand was extremely busy, so there were a lot of visitors standig in front of the tables - I don't think it's obvious to expect someone to just snatch something from inside the stand while so many potential witnesses are watching
If a place is considered safe enough for the main till, it should be considered safe for a purse. Yes, a purse is way easier to snatch than a steel box, but it just seems 'logical'
There were no strict instruction where or where not to put the purse and the employee in question has been to many fairs with us, so she has quite some experience herself
Now my colleague wants the employee to work a certain amount of overtime for free to make up for the loss, which I think is pretty pointless, absurd and inappropriate. She did not do it on purpose, she did not act carelessly (in my opinion, in his opinion "there would have been way better places to put the purse") and he (or anyone of us) could have put it away himself if he considered it so much of a concern. So there's either nobody to blame or all of us.
How should we handle this? Is it really appropriate to blame the employee and expect her to work overtime for free? Or should we just take it as a lesson for the next time?