There's more to employee theft prevention than a policy and a security guard at the front desk.
It's Monday morning. You come back from a meeting and have an email you don't want to see. The IT department is missing two new computers. That's in addition to the wallet that disappeared last week from an employee's desk. Last year your biggest concern was a missing yogurt from the break room fridge.
You thought your employee theft prevention program was top notch, but apparently, it isn't working.
Employee theft prevention isn't just about the big things like embezzling thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's also about more than taking someone's doughnut out of the break room. At its best, theft in an office building is annoying and demoralizing. At its worst, theft can severely impact your revenue and even drive your business out of business.
The unfortunate fact is that employee theft can affect every business, small or large. You might be lucky. You might not ever have to worry about theft. You still need an employee theft prevention plan because the longer you're in business, the more likely it is that you'll encounter theft.
What is employee theft?
A missing lunch here or there might not even register in a large team, but it sows the seeds of malcontent. It gets especially problematic when team members start losing the cash that was sitting on their desk or a credit card goes missing.
Employee theft can be as simple as taking other people's lunches from the break room. Submitting fraudulent purchase orders, sneaking off with a computer, or overcharging customers and skimming the extra cash aren't as unusual as you would like to think.
Five employee theft prevention tips:
There will always be people who feel entitled to take what they want. Pens and notepads don't cost that much, so an employee might feel like it's OK to take some home. Heck, some employees take home toilet paper from the utility closet to save a trip to the store. Fortunately, you have ways to encourage honesty—or at least discourage dishonesty. Here are some of the most successful employee theft prevention tips currently in practice.1. Hire the right people.
Hire the right people, and the incidence of theft will limit itself. If you don't already screen interviewees thoroughly, it's time to start. Check references, conduct a criminal background investigation, and be very clear about your company policies, including your theft policy.
2. Limit the opportunity.
The single best way to discourage theft is to limit the possibilities for it. Separate billing and receiving duties. Ask employees to put personal belongings in a safe space when they leave their desks for meetings or breaks. Make it a company-wide habit to keep file cabinets locked. Require employees to lock their computers to their desks with cable locks. The more you can do to discourage the "opportunity thief," the better off your entire team will be.
3. Keep morale high.
Low morale is an invitation to your employees to steal. Low morale also torpedoes employee productivity. How can you keep team morale high? Don't overwork your team. If you do have to load them up for a project, make sure it is temporary and not the first step in a never-ending cascade of increased workload. Thank them for their contributions.
4. Update your employee theft policy.
You do have an employee theft policy, right? You do hand it to every new hire, right? If you haven't updated your policy recently, do it as soon as possible. Don't just update it, though. Send it out to your team. One of the best employee theft prevention ideas is to send the subtle message that it's a problem that's on your radar.
5. Keep it human.
Don't make employee theft prevention a point of contention. You're sure to lower employee morale if everyone gets paranoid or concerned that you are watching their every move. Don't accuse anyone of theft without substantial evidence, and even then, let your legal department handle the situation.
When it comes down to it, your employees are human, and they deserve to be treated respectfully and with an appreciation for the job they do. When you manage your team well, it pays off in theft prevention, higher productivity, and a happier workplace for everyone.
Contact your Pekin Insurance agent about your options for business insurance, and we will help identify the risks your company faces, make recommendations for protection, and help put together a business insurance policy you can afford and feel good about.
What steps do you take for successful employee theft prevention in your office? Let us know in the comments. We'd love to hear your ideas.