If you have definitive information that the employee is stealing food, I recommend you talk to him. “Hey, this is a tough situation, but something has come to my attention that I want/need to talk to you about. Some of the team members are saying you’re taking food from the break room that isn’t yours. Is that true?” Then, if it is true ask the person what is driving that behavior. Do they forget to bring food to work? Is it merely a lack of planning? Are they broke? Is it an eating disorder? Any dialogue will be helpful. It may not be easy for him to confess, so take your time. Then, embark on some problem solving and try to find a solution.
Granted this is not a typical coaching session, but if you want to salvage the employee, it’s important and worth the effort. You may want to mention that in your conversation. If it blows up or the person denies it, you can go to Plan B. Another option is to draft some new rules for the break room, publish them, add signage, and encourage people to label their food and/or buy lockable lunch bags.
Originally published on Quora.