Every year, one out of three businesses close down due to profit loses from employee theft. You may think that this simply cannot happen to you. Maybe you like your employees and do not want to think badly of them. Maybe you feel that you are too diligent to allow theft to occur on your watch. But the bottom line is that no matter how much you like your employees or trust your diligence, sometimes things just happen. I have done some heavy research on this topic and found out two specific things: One is that there are some good tips to keep good people in your employment so you do not end up seeing your profits walk out the door, and two is that sometimes no matter what you do, you may have an employee with sticky fingers. When this is the case the best you can hope for it to catch them so you stop losing profits, and have them turned over to the law for an investigation.
Tip 1: Zero Tolerance
If you do happen to catch an employee stealing from you, the only way to show others that you will not put up with criminal behavior from your workers is to prosecute. This may not always feel like the right thing to do, but it really is. If you have an employee who is stealing from you, the chances are good that they have done this to other employers and will do it again in the future. So, do not do the thief any favors by simply firing them. It may be a great favor to them, but it is a danger to other hard working business owners. Bringing in the law is also a major deterrent for others who may have considered stealing from you or have already stolen from you. Seeing a coworker handcuffed would certainly make me think twice!
Tip 2: Be Visible
Do not be the boss who sits behind their desk all day. Walk around the business. Talk with your customers and your employees. Do not keep any set “walk around” schedules or people will begin to notice a routine. What you want to do is be able to pop up unexpectedly and out of the blue. This will give your employees the idea that if they do try to steal (or misbehave in any other way) that they have a strong chance of being caught by the boss man! Do not give off the impression that you are looking to catch someone in the act as this will make everyone uncomfortable, and you totally unlikable. Just be casual and you will know what is happening when nobody thinks you are watching.
Tip 3: Do Smart Hiring
When you need a new employee or two, hire smart not fast. Even when you really need someone to get started right away, take the time to do your homework. Check the person’s references, job histories and criminal records. If you do not do all of this thoroughly then you should not be surprised when you have an employee that steals from you. When you do hire, train the person well and enforce all the security rules that you set forth during training. If you do not make all of your employees follow the same pattern of rules you are sending a negative message. Remember that dishonesty can be encouraged by selective treatment.
Tip 4: Be the Employer that YOU Would Want to Work For
When asked why people steal from their employers, one of the main themes that cropped up was that the person disliked their employer because of XYZ. Even though disliking your employer is not a justification of stealing, it is nonetheless a real reason that it happens. Pay your employees are working wage. Treat them with dignity and respect. Show them that you do have faith and trust in their abilities. All of this sounds too simple to work, but a little bit of the right treatment goes a long way!
As I stated in the beginning, even if you do all of the right things, some employees will still steal. There is nothing you can do 100% of the time, short of sitting on top of each one and that is obviously not a viable (or legal) option. Do whatever you can to prevent losses and what you can prevent you can prosecute!