In many businesses, employee theft is the biggest cause of inventory shrinkage, even above shoplifting. While no business owner wants to find out that their employees are stealing from them, it’s important to be aware of the problem. There are a variety of security products that can help you curtail the problem, as well as other measures you can take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim.
Employee theft is estimated to cost the United States about $50 billion per year. The biggest reason employee theft is such a problem is because they have opportunity to access money and merchandise, and may even know how to get past your security devices. This is especially true for those employees who work alone.
In addition, many people tend to steal from their employers because they find ways to justify it. For example, they may think they should have gotten overtime hours, so they steal to make up for their perceived “losses.”
Unfortunately, many thieves are difficult to distinguish from honest employees. They’re often diligent and hard-working–sometimes more so than their coworkers. In fact, if an employee is constantly volunteering to stay late (especially alone), it could be a sign he or she is looking for an opportunity for theft. Other employees may have more obvious signs: people that have stolen from their employers in the past are likely to do so again, for instance.
One way to help discourage employee theft is by getting to know your employees. This is successful on several levels. First, employees often feel guiltier about stealing from someone they know well, especially if they feel you care about them. Learning more about your employees’ personal lives also helps you identify stressful situations such as a breakup or high medical bills that could lead to stealing.
If an employee knows another employee is stealing, they may be hesitant to come forward. Provide an anonymous way for employees to let you know if they see something going on that they want to report. This will prevent them from receiving the blame from their coworkers and might make them more willing to speak up if they see a crime.
Although no security products are completely fool-proof, they are still a good way to cut down the majority of crime. Use cameras to monitor your employees, especially around registers or expensive merchandise. Safety devices that secure expensive electronics and other high-end merchandise are also an effective way of preventing employees (or shoplifters) from simply walking away with the goods.