Employee theft is a common problem for all types of businesses. While it might seem to happen more in retail environments, no business is really safe. Even construction workers may steal supplies and tools.
Theft adds up quickly, which means passing costs on to consumers. The best course of action is to prevent it before it can hurt your business.
Employee Theft Statistics
You might not think employee theft affects you. However, 95% of businesses experience it. What’s even worse is 75% of employees have admitted to stealing at least once from their employer. Employees aren’t just stealing a few paperclips, either. According to Statistic Brain, employee theft accounts for over 42% of US store inventory loss each year. It also leads to 33% of US bankruptcies. On average, theft by employees costs businesses $50 billion yearly.
From stealing products and office supplies to major fraud, theft can ruin your business. Everyone from temp employees to upper management are all potential culprits.
Employee Theft Continues Over Time
Employees who aren’t caught may continue to steal. It may start with stealing a cheap snack at a grocery store before a break. Or, taking home office supplies. However, it may then grow to stealing higher-priced items, such as a box of meat from a restaurant’s freezer or new electronics for the office.
Upper management and those with access to financials often skip straight to fraud. They start with tiny amounts that no one would really notice. They might even have a few employees helping them, unbeknownst to the employees. Over time, they get braver, stealing more money and leaving your business unable to make payroll and pay bills.
Why Employees Steal
There are usually four main reasons why employees steal:
· They find it incredibly easy to do so and there’s very little chance of getting caught or punished.
· Sudden personal need may lead to a great employee suddenly stealing something valuable or committing fraud.
· Greed is a common motivator.
· They might resent their employer and/or manager and feel it’s their right to steal.
Knowing why it happens helps to prevent it from happening. For example, making employees happier and ensuring they’re paid fairly often helps to prevent theft due to resentment and personal need.
Preventing Employee Theft
Employee theft is often hard to prevent simply because you might not notice it until much later. A few ways to help prevent it include:
· Add extra security measures, such as security cameras, locks, password protection and other barriers to make it more difficult to steal
· Improve workplace culture for a happier workplace
· Implement accountability protocols so any financial data has to go through multiple employees to help prevent fraud
· Conduct regular audits to find signs of theft
· Add a whistleblower hotline for employees to report theft safely
· Have clear anti-theft policies in place and act on them so employees know there are consequences
While you might not prevent all employee theft in the workplace right away, you can start reducing it. Over time, most employees won’t feel it’s worth it. This makes those who are guilty stand out even more