If you’re in business long enough, you’re liable to see just about everything — and clearly our readers have.

For our Big Survey 2016, we asked: “What’s the strangest thing you’ve caught an employee doing on the job?”

Some of the stories you told aren’t just strange — they’re downright shocking!

Below are the 10 most often-mentioned categories of strange things you’ve caught your employees doing, along with a few specifics from your responses.

We’ve also included a few other responses that didn’t make it into the top 10, since they were isolated incidents, but are definitely no less weird.

        1. SLEEPING. Catching up on a few Zs was clearly No. 1 with employees being caught sleeping at the jewelry bench, on sales cases, in the bathroom, at their desk, under their desks and while watching a sales video.
        2. HAVING SEX and OTHER PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION. There’s apparently quite a lot going on behind the scenes at America’s jewelers with store owners revealing they had come across employees getting intimate in the repair shop, stock room, store room, back room, at a trade show (“not their spouse”), and most often, in the bathroom (“She was having sex with a maintenance man in the bathroom sink! They broke the bowl off the wall!” reported one astonished jeweler.)
        3. SURFING THE INTERNET. Not exactly weird but not productive, especially when the subject matter is Netflix or porn, But we’re pretty much sympathetic to the bench jeweler caught watching baseball on his phone while working at the bench. Less so the sales person “texting while standing in front of a client.”
        4. PUBLIC GROOMING. Cleanliness is next to godliness, except when it’s done on the sales floor. Personal grooming and especially clipping toenails (as mentioned by no fewer than four bosses, and in one case with a jeweler’s snips!) were pet peeves of a dozen or so store owners. Then there was the employee who would “wash his hands at a minimum 10 times/day and use a tissue when touching door handles.” Other hygiene transgressions included “flossing his teeth” and “plucking hairs on upper thighs” in open view.
        5. GETTING HIGH. Pot, cocaine, shots and “drinking booze out of a Gatorade bottle during lunch” — jewelry store owners seem to have caught their staff doing most things, including “inhaling computer duster compressed air.” It’s called “huffing,” our correspondent informed us.
        6. REVEALING TOO MUCH. There’s a reason dress and behavior codes exist. Although it appears some stores will need to add a subsection on tattoos. Among the more egregious shows of flesh:
          “Wearing a dress that showed the underside of her breast.”
          “Years ago one gal got mad at her bra and pulled it out and off (modestly, no skin was bared)”
          “Trying on bikini tops, but technically it was just before the store opened. But the girl is a great employee.”
          “Comparing tattoos with a BIG spending customer.”
          “Showing a tattoo that was on their butt to another co-worker.”
          “Showing the tattoo on his penis to a 16-year old female employee.”
          “Not locking the bathroom door. A near catastrophic encounter with a client broke that habit!”
        7. STEALING. Not weird, and sadly not so uncommon, with staff being nabbed swapping out watch parts, embezzling diamonds, stuffing cash in their underwear and whatever else they could get their hands on.
        8. DOUBLE TIMING. More a case of stealing company hours than goods, this included workers selling their gems or merchandise online during company time. Employees using the store equipment to print their resumes seemed to particularly annoy store owners. One extracurricular activity of note: “Calling in sick to pose nude for a calendar.”
        9. WORKING ON PERSONAL PROJECTS. This included researching their vacation trip, planning a dinner party, making a wrestling schedule, planning a wedding, paying bills, Internet dating, making an appointment for tattoo removal and “running out-of-town orgy parties (really!)”, all on company time
        10. FOOD-RELATED. Eating when they should have been working. Cereal, pizza, other employees’ lunches …

Beyond those, there were sisters and spouses fighting, employees finding a dark corner to meditate, those sneaking phone calls (“in the buffing room with the machines running pretending to work”) and some that are just hard to categorize:

  • “Trying to open a champagne bottle with a pipe wrench.”
  • Hoarding paper napkins and plates and toothpaste tubes in their file cabinet.
  • Checking the ultrasonic cleaner to find out what type of poison we were putting in it to kill her.
  • Practicing timing in and out on the time clock.
  • We had an employee we really thought was female turn out to be a guy.
  • Hiding inside of a jewelry case to freak someone out!
  • Making a “sculpture” from dried epoxy, paper clips and straw papers
  • Coloring the faces on the money.

Finally a section that we called store improvements, but which could go under the category of going beyond the call:

  • “I heard something in the ceiling and when I investigated. My employee was in the ceiling above the tiles cleaning. Until he fell through.”
  • “I had an ex-employee who came in one day when we were closed and wallpapered a couple walls without permission. I guess she thought they were boring. She put big polka dots on them.”

This article is an online extra for INSTORE Online.

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