Reducing Employee Theft in the Workplace
Businesses don’t like to think that their trusted employees would steal from them, but many ordinary business owners have learned that the honor system fails from time to time. Large and small businesses alike can be very particular about who they hire, but even then both large and small companies will come across instances of employee theft.
Here’s how to make sure you are taking the right steps in finding the right workers for the job and establishing trusting relationships:
1. Perform a Background Check
The first thing a business can do to safeguard against loss due to employee theft is to research the backgrounds of potential hires before they are able to join the workforce. Someone who has been found to steal from their employer in the past will need extra scrutiny when joining any place of business. Far too often, businesses make the mistake of not learning about someone’s history ahead of time, and they find that if they had known sooner, they probably would not have trusted certain candidates for the positions in which they were placed. Resumes and drug screenings can only tell part of the story.
2. Group Workers Into Pairs
When working around important equipment or inventory, it is a good idea to have workers paired up to keep each other honest. Too much trust in one person can lead to corruption. When there are another set of eyes and hands, it will reduce the temptation for opportunistic employees to take off with something as they would if no one else was watching. Using an accountability partner is a way to use the buddy system so that workers remain honest with each other and to the company.
3. Use Surveillance
Surveillance can be used in a number of different ways so that employers can keep an eye on company property. Security cameras can be placed in strategic locations to monitor the movement of goods and belongings. RFID tags and security beacons can be placed on items with scanners for inventory placed at exits. GPS trackers work for company vehicles to make sure they are not being used for unauthorized activities. For company computers and smartphones, it is a good idea to use monitoring software for seeing how each computer and mobile device is being used throughout the day and in the event of loss or theft of any equipment.
4. Watch Trash Runs
Thieves are not usually able to simply walk out with large or expensive items without being noticed. One tactic they like to use is taking advantage of trash runs to disguise their act of theft as performing a task for the company. Many large or expensive items might be placed at the bottom of a trash bin on its way out or in a black trash bag like regular trash. Employers can take steps by using clear trash bags and noticing which employees regularly park near the dumpster or stop there with their cars during or after work hours.
5. Use and Check the Comment Box
Placing a comment box in an employee break room or other anonymous location is a good way for workers to voice their opinions about events and procedures without concerns with being reprimanded for their suggestions. Workers should also know that the comment box can be used to report suspicious activity or provide tips about missing items ore company waste. Of course, a comment box does no good if the messages are never reviewed, so it is a good idea for employers to check their comment boxes regularly to make sure everything is staying on par.
6. Talk Wtih Employees Regularly
It’s generally accepted that people are less likely to steal from someone they know well. Retail stores are able to curb customer theft by engaging customers and simply offering a welcome or ‘Hello, is there anything I can help you with?’ A similar strategy can be used with workers in a company. Acknowledging that an employee is appreciated and showing interest in them as a person helps dissuade that worker from taking advantage of opportunities to steal. Of course, some thieves may try to take advantage of the familiarity to hide their true intentions, which is why it is important for the employer to remain attentive and use discernment when talking with their employees on any subject.