According to figures of the US Chamber of Commerce statistics an estimated 75% of all employees steal from their employer, costing billions per year. The FBI claims that employee theft is the fastest growing crime. A large number of business failures can be traced back to employee theft and fraud. And be aware employees may not just be stealing property but also time or information assets.
Why Employees Steal
What is probably more important is the reasons why employees steal.
“Because they need the money, because of job insecurity, out of greed, duhh”
All those reasons may be there but the simple fact is that most employees steal because the opportunity to do so is there and at the same time there often is little fear of being caught or discovered. While opportunity is most important, there may be other relevant factors. Low morale can lead employees not only to steal, but can also lower productivity. Feelings of being wronged or mistreated may ust offer that rationalization when the opportunity presents itself. The same applies to feelings of under-appreciation.
Lack of punitive measures in place or there is a lack of preventative and detection measures including but not limited to appropriate policies and procedures and control measures are similarly factors that could lead to an increased risk of employee theft and fraud.
There is this sort of golden rule that 10 percent of the employees will not steal no matter what the opportunity, 10% will steal in any event and for 80% it depends on the circumstances and the nature of the opportunity, including but not limited to chances of getting caught and potential consequences.You challenge as a business owner/manager/director: make sure that opportunities and possibilities to rationalize the actions are kept to a minimum.
It is noted that no system will ever be completely 100% fail safe. Where motivation is high people will ind a way. Opportunity essentially boils down to: procedures, employee autonomy and perception. Procedures should provide checks and balances with inventory, cash, time and expense records, and the list goes on so as to minimize or eliminate the opportunity for an employee to circumvent controls. Implement extra layers and let your employees know about them.
When employees have a high level of autonomy, consistent oversight is a must. The employee who works with little or no supervision has incredible opportunity for theft and random checks and redundant monitoring systems limit opportunity.
The more employees believe they will be caught, the less likely they are to steal. This perception is vital. You can promote this perception through effective training. Communicate an anti-theft message clearly to all hires early and often and tell your employees what is expected from them. Let them know what theft is – not only outright stealing, but also things such as taking a long lunch break without approval, using sick leave when not sick, doing slow or sloppy work, or coming to work late or leaving early. Ensure they understand their roles, responsibilities and are not having problems. Finally, train ALL your employees to recognize theft – this can reduce opportunity.
When Theft Takes Place
When employee theft is discovered emotion driven reactions are often there: DO NOT react on the basis of your emotions. Sure, you feel violated but remember this is a business problem and addressing it in that frame of mind will produce a faster resolution and help prevent more theft.Don’t. Not only can your emotions cause more problems, but also you could potentially open yourself up to other liabilities. Remember that employment law is a minefield and a personal grievance is the last of what you want.
Furthermore learn from your incidents!
Facts, Facts, Facts: Investigate
If you have legitimate suspicions, you should conduct an investigation. Legitimacy is based in the facts, evidence and not from rumors, gossip and hunches. Investigations need to be impartial and facts based. Consider us instead of doing it yourself as professionals like ourselves have the required professional and emotional distance. Moreover in nowadays IT driven business environment it is all to easy to make mistakes, and the same applies to interviewing potential witnesses. Do not accuse before an investigation is complete and even then, be very cautious. The word “theft” implies an intent to steal and employers who throw around the term can get into trouble.
Whenever you do find evidence of employee theft, start an investigation immediately. The longer you wait, the more theft can occur, evidence could be corrupted and the more other employees see the damage being done. Prompt investigations send the message that theft is not tolerated and that you are watching. Most of all: be honest with your employees and they will usually reciprocate. It’s hard to expect your employees to be honest if you aren’t honest. The example you set yourself goes a long way.
How Am I Doing?
You may want to know by now how you are doing, what opportunities there are in your business and what to do about it.why don’t you contact us and see what we can do for you.
For anywhere between $250 and $1500 (for most businesses. Depending on the size and nature of the business and operations) you could opt for a RISK ASSESSMENT to identify where you weak spots are.
You could consider going a step further let Dierckx & Associates help you closing the gaps, evaluate your suspicions or investigate incidents and train up your staff members so they learn to recognize the signs.
I look forward to hearing from you and see how our integrity management services may serve your business. There is nothing to lose as the first telephone, skype, email consultation (up to two and a half hours) is free. So don’t wait and contact us now.