According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, employee theft costs American businesses more than $50 billion annually. The chamber estimates that 75 percent of all employees steal and that half of them are repeat offenders. Protect your business and its assets by being prepared when theft happens.
Explain to employees what theft is and how your company deals with it. Verbally instruct employees, give them paperwork and have them watch a video on theft. Ensure that employees know what the company considers theft and what happens if they are caught stealing.
Install security cameras to observe employees perform their daily tasks. Recorded video provides evidence of a theft taking place. For example, according to the news agency KFBB-TV, a restaurant owner in Montana installed hidden cameras in his business and caught an assistant manager stealing close to $3,500 from the restaurant. The video provided enough evidence to terminate the employee and bring charges against him.
Interview employees and have them explain their actions when you catch them doing something suspicious. Things are not always as they appear. For example, you may notice an employee putting an item into her pocket; upon confronting the employee, she informs you that she placed the item in her pocket because her hands were full. While this sounds suspicious, she may be telling the truth and should be given another chance. Falsely accusing an employee can result in lawsuits against your company. In the 2008 case of McNeil v. Brewers Retail Inc., an Ontario, Canada company wrongfully terminated an employee for stealing money from the cash register; the employee sued the company and won $2.1 million in damages.
Prevent future thefts by learning from past incidents. Catching employees in the act of stealing highlights weakness in your company policies and procedures. Develop controls that address the weaknesses. For example, if you catch an employee stealing directly from his cash drawer, you can lower the likelihood of these type of thefts in the future by installing cameras near cash registers and informing employees that they are being monitored.
Michael Laws is college educated with a major in business management. His professional experience includes the military, government contracting and information technology, and his areas of expertise include careers, technology, certification programs, computers and business.