Employee theft is an ongoing problem that can affect any business. From small theft such as stealing a pen, postage stamps, paper and other office supplies to the theft of valuable equipment or stock, it is a problem that won’t go away.
How should you react to employee theft? The first step is to create and establish a system of prevention. Remember that theft can increase if deterrence measures are not quickly taken. The system itself must be checked and updated periodically to ensure that it has not become corrupted. There is no such thing as a system that is immune from corruption, as the well intentioned executives of any government or corporation in the world.
Perhaps you think that only hiring people that you trust can prevent employee theft. But ask yourself how many completely trusted friends or family members that you have. Will you be able to hire all of them? And what about the rest of your employees?
The other side of the problem is that businesses often create an environment that facilitates theft. This is particularly true in small businesses that treat there employees as an extended family. People are allowed to do things, such as use money out of the cash drawer to buy lunch or use the business phone for long distance calls that would not be done in a more sophisticated work environment.
There are ways to combat theft and things a small business man can do to combat theft. The first thing is to institute an inventory control system. This makes employees responsible for inventory and creates a record of the movement and whereabouts of stock.
If employees have keys, make sure that you have an alarm system that they cannot control. This prevents midnight visits and the unauthorized exit of stock out the back door.
Perhaps the most traditional and effective theft prevention system is periodic audits. Regular audits of stock and company finances will reveal “leaks” that can then be plugged. And you should never hesitate to prosecute an employee for theft. Not only do you set an example for the rest of your staff; you prevent the possible increase in corruption by discouraging others. This also protects your honest employees, as it tends to create and reinforce an atmosphere of honesty in the workplace.
Business operations require trust. When things go missing, it’s easy for that trust to break down. This creates suspicion and ruins moral. Employees with low moral are less likely to feel accountable for what they do. This doesn’t just disrupt day to day operations; it also increases the likelihood of more theft.
So, install a theft prevention system that’s right for your company. If necessary, consult a business or security adviser who can help you plan out a system that you can afford, a system that prevents theft while safeguarding your honest employees.