My first comment would be that if the field was defined as a number field you wouldn't have this problem. Is there any reason why you want it to be defined as a text field?
In your script, how are you constructing the find request at the moment? I gather that you must be pasting the employee number or somehow inserting it in an automated find? If you provide this information, it will be easier to provide the best solution for you.
Your first sentence provided the answer. One of the many tables in the database had the employee number defined as text. Thank you...