Employee theft is a problem that costs United States businesses about $40 billion a year. While small businesses may think that employee theft is only a problem that impacts large corporations, this is not the case. Employee theft can include everything from embezzling company money to using company resources without permission for personal use. Despite the reasons that an employee may have for stealing from their employer, employers need to be proactive in their attempts to prevent it from happening.
Minimize Common Reasons for Employee Theft
There are a lot of reasons why employees steal from their employers. Some are disgruntled because they are being paid beneath what they are worth, while other steal as a result to the opportunity is presented to them. In order to prevent employee theft, I would highly recommend fixing problems that make your company vulnerable to theft.
To begin with, treat your employees well. Employees that are abused, overworked and underpaid have more reasons to steal from you than employees that are valued and appreciated. Simple ways to make your employees feel like they are valued by you include recognizing their efforts, providing them with perks and rewards to compensate their added effort and being respectful of their needs to deal with personal issues, like child care and family events.
Another easy way to prevent employee theft is to reduce opportunities for it to occur. For example, do not leave cash or checkbooks out in the open. Instead keep these assets in a location that can be secured with a lock. Secondly, develop a written policy that outlines the company’s position on employee’s using company resources for personal use. I created a policy for a company that allowed employees to use company resources for personal use as long as they reimbursed the company. This policy clearly outlined what resources were available for personal use, how the personal use was to be documented and how and when the employee needed to pay for the items.
Employee theft often occurs when an employee thinks that what they are taking will not be missed. Inventory that is not tracked is a likely target for employee theft. Taking the appropriate accounting steps to track inventory is essential to reducing and preventing employee theft. If you have inventory that is difficult to track, or other assets that are difficult to track, then you can also implement a security monitoring system. If you select this option, however, you will need to inform your employees that their work environment is being monitored, and you will want to add the monitoring policy to your employee handbook.