A 2016 survey by a criminal justice researcher suggested that 64% of small business owners reported experiencing employee theft. Theft of cash was the most common (40%) closely followed by thefts of products sold by the business (18%), theft of tools (8%) and theft of equipment and office supplies at 6%.
Obviously theft = loss of money to the business.
So how do you prevent employee theft?
- Don’t skip pre-employment background checks. Verify candidates’ qualifications, job history and references. Identify any gaps and check them out properly.
- Make your attitude to theft very clear. Employees need to know exactly what you do and do not allow at your workplace. For example, if an employee uses the copier to print programmes for her daughter’s school play, is that a theft of resources? If one of your staff borrows a tool to use over the weekend on a non-work related project, is that the same as stealing?
- Encourage reporting of dishonesty. Set up an anonymous means for employees to report theft in the workplace without fear of repercussions (NB make sure that anonymous tips are properly investigated and not just an opportunity for an employee to play out a grudge a colleague).
- Think about rotating your staff. If one person is always responsible for the same thing, they may be able to hide their thefts. When others handle the same tasks it becomes a type of audit—and makes it more difficult to hide dishonesty.
- Consider internal surveillance. Video surveillance and computer monitoring can be very helpful for catching employees who are breaking the rules. However, you must inform your workers that you plan to observe them. You should have a workplace policy relating to monitoring, you should word it clearly and communicate it regularly.
- Enforce the consequences. According to the survey mentioned earlier, only 16 percent of the small business owners who experienced employee theft bothered to report it to the authorities. Even if you choose not to report a worker’s theft to the police, you must still enforce the consequences via the disciplinary policy. If you do not, you send the rest of your staff the message that you’re willing to tolerate rule breakers.
How do you prevent employee theft? Do you suspect you have a problem? Call us now to talk to us in confidence on 01706 565 332 or email us.
Metis HR is an HR consultancy service based in North West England