10 Steps to Prevent Employee Theft;
from Stealing from Business
So you caught your employee(s) stealing; congratulations, you will no longer be part of the $40 Billion a year employee-theft loss! Hopefully you have terminated the employees and are ready to take better precautionary measures to protect your assets.
Here's 10 easy steps to take to ensure the safety of your business and goods:
1. Business Insurance - its worth every penny!
If you own a business, Business Insurance is one of the first things you should buy - even before you invest in a website. As soon as you purchase your policy, you can operate knowing that your goods are safe. In the event that items are stolen, your establishment is vandalized (or a victim or arson) or a flash flood wipes your store out... you'll be ok. It won't be fun and it won't be a pretty ride, but you'll be able to rebuild.
Cameras do NOT "stop theft", but they do help prevent. If you can't afford a real camera system, opt for high end fake cameras or a webcam system. Remember; if you want to install cameras, you MUST provide a legal notice to customers and employees that they are being recorded. So keep in mind; if you're installing fake cameras, make sure you also put lots of "Smile! You're on Camera!" signs. If you opt for fake cameras - take your secret TO THE GRAVE. Do NOT share that the cameras are fake with managers, friends or family. There is NO REASON to broadcast your weakness! If the time comes that you install REAL cameras, and you insist on blabbing your mouth about the fakies - do it once your new, real system is up and running.
3. Email / Internet Monitoring.
Perhaps you have heard that it is "illegal" to check your employees email - and you are correct. It is against the United States Law to "hack" into someone's email - its mail fraud - the same as going into a physical mailbox and taking mail; a big no-no. However,
"Internet Monitoring Solution Software" isn't illegal.
As an employer, there are no outward signs that this program exists on your employees computer. Even if your employee suspects such programs and preforms a search of the computer will likely turn up no results because these programs are designed to run in "stealth mode" so they cannot locate them.
By monitoring your employees internet activity, not only can you make sure you are paying them to do legitimate work, but you can also bust theft.
4. Make it Clear.
Don't "wait" for a problem to happen. Be forthcoming with all new hires - and put it in black and white...literally. Create documents detailing your policies on theft, and specifically WHAT you consider theft. Outline that any unauthorized use of company internet, time, goods, etc is also considered theft. Specify that you prosecute every employee who steals or attempts to steal.
By showing your new hires that you're no dummy and this isn't your first rodeo, you have the upper hand.
The truth is, most businesses are an inventory nightmare. There's piles of items in the back room that haven't been logged as "loss" or inventoried as "new product" yet. There may be a walk-in full of food that is partially (if not fully) unaccounted for and purchased "as needed". Perhaps you run an office that has a storage room full of extra ink and other supplies. Let me ask, how many ink cartridges are in your supply room right now? How many packs of paper in the ream? How many cans of spaghetti sauce in your pantry? Or how many of your worst seller do you have? I bet you likely don't know. And I equally bet your employees know you don't know.
By at least pretending to do an inventory every week you make employees second-guess theft. The employee knows that if they take an ink today, hell will break lose Friday.
6. Create "Sign In / Sign Out" sheets.
Force employees to log what they are taking from the storage room. Itemize what is added to storage. By creating this process you may quickly notice that you are running out of a case of T-bone steaks daily...when you only sell two to customers.
7. Be Surprising.
Let's face it; people are creatures of habit. We like to wake up at a certain time, get to the office at a certain time, return calls before lunch, etc. Well, just how you have a schedule, your employees have noticed.
Do NOT announce when you plan to arrive at the office. Do NOT announce that you will be off Thursday or out of town for three days. Instead of coming in at 10am, come in a 9am, then 8am. Instead of leaving for lunch, bring a lunch and dine in. You will likely notice squirming employees who ask questions like "You're not leaving for lunch?" - interesting.
8. Remain Hands-On.
It is YOUR business; run it like one. Employees are a reflection of management. If an owner is a hard worker who leads by example, the employees will follow. If the owner likes to leave early to "take the day off" or sit at their desk making personal calls, the employees will do the same.
9. Follow up on EVERY Situation... and Make it KNOWN.
Every store had shoplifters. Every business has employee theft. Why keep it a secret? I, personally, have prosecuted numerous shoplifters, and even brought employees with me to court. Having employees know that you are all about business spreads the word. Employees love to talk - and having them talk about the business being "no nonsense" is always better than "My boss is so stupid and blind".
10. Do not be a Friend.
This is the hardest of the steps to take to help prevent theft. It is human nature to befriend those who are good to us. We naturally take in people who make us feel good (or make us money). However, there are three kinds of relationships; Acquaintances, Friends and "Lovers". There is no reason to ever have employees become friends or "lovers". By keeping a polite, acquaintance relationship, you will be able to terminate and reprimand employees and remain in control of your business.