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Protecting Against Employee Theft: Tips on Preventing and Detecting It

Employment theft is more common than you think! A recent study shows that in 2021, Employee theft is accounted for roughly 5.16 thousand theft incidences in England and Wales alone.

Although the figures aren't as bad as in recent years, it's still something that every business owner should be aware of.

Even if the rate of employee theft has dropped, it still indicates that one out of every ten employees is a thief. It's a huge problem to have amongst your staff, and it can directly affect the growth of your business.

So, what does this mean for you? How do you protect yourself from employee thefts? If you don't want to become another victim, then this blog post will help you assess the risk of theft in your workplace, discuss the types of how employees steal, and provide tips on how to prevent them.

What is Employee Theft?

Employee theft is described as an act where an employee steals property or money from their employer. Instead of using the company's resources for better use, they steal and misuse them without authority's permission.

It is also known as "employee dishonesty," "embezzlement," or "working for free," and it comes in many forms. But stealing money isn't the only type of theft that an employee can commit. There are several ways how an employee can misuse or steal a company's asset without anyone knowing.

Most Common Types of Employee Theft

Employee theft is a serious problem that every small businesses, medium-sized companies, and even corporations are facing today!

It manifests itself in many forms that are difficult to identify. But here are the most common workplace theft that occur are:

  • Cash Theft - Because accountants or financial managers are in charge of the company's finances, business owners have limited control over cash flow. As a result, it will be easy for employees to steal. Employees may make a fake refund claim, pocket cash from the register, or withdraw money from an ATM without permission.

  • Theft of Inventory - Employees may steal things from stock or falsify inventory count records to steal inventory. It's also known as "shrinkage," where employees are responsible for declining inventory due to shoplifting, administrative errors, and even damage by customers or suppliers.

  • Trade Secrets Theft or Personal Data - Employees might take confidential information related to a business, such as customer lists, marketing plans, or trade secrets that have commercial value, without permission from their employer.

  • Personal Use - Personal gains are one of the most common reasons for employee theft. This includes using the company car to drive their children to school, take business trips with an unauthorized companion, and many others.

  • Time Theft - stealing time from their employer, not reporting the actual time they work, or skipping out early are all considered time theft. This may also include working during breaks, taking too much time for lunch, or socializing instead of doing work-related tasks.

  • Falsification of Records - This employment theft occurs when employees distort information such as sales records to appear they are meeting targets and deadlines or altering timesheets.

Theft in the workplace is more widespread than you would imagine. It's not just about stealing money; employment thieves can steal anything from trade secrets to inventory without your knowledge or permission.

Even before this happens, you might as well be aware of the types of employee theft so you can address them appropriately.

Prevent Employee Theft - How?

Theft prevention is the biggest concern for many business owners. Some of these employment thefts are easy to prevent, while others might get difficult when an employee has been in the company for a long time.

Employers can protect themselves against employee theft in several ways:

Run Background Checks. Ever wonder why police clearance is a huge requirement for most businesses? Employee theft can be prevented if you already know the work ethics of the applicants and what their previous employers have to say about them.

Establish a Code of Conduct - Be very clear about the employment standards and what you expect from your employees. Make sure they understand policies on confidentiality, conflicts of interest, theft prevention, and workplace safety.

Create a System to Monitor Behavior - Monitoring how employees perform their daily tasks can help you identify possible employment thieves who might have been doing this for a while.

Ensure Proper Accountability - Employees need to be aware that they are being monitored. There should be consequences if employment theft is detected, such as terminating employment or taking legal action against the employee for their misconduct. Implementing these accountability measures can help prevent future employment thefts from occurring in your business.

Educate Employees About Theft - Teach your staff about employee theft and emphasize the dangers of it. Have regular training sessions that highlight examples of employee theft or stories from employees who have been caught stealing.

Install a Surveillance system. Video monitoring devices and other security software work as a great deterrent to alert employees that they are being watched over and liable for their actions if something goes wrong.

Access Control. Limit the number of people who can enter the 'private zones' of your business. This will allow you to track who is allowed to enter and discover unauthorized people who went in and their reason for doing so.

Check Up - Ensure there is a system for checking up on staff and their work, such as having supervisors check inventory levels regularly and compare bookkeeping records with cashier reports. You can even instruct people in accounts to count the store cash and revenue as often as possible.

Understand their concerns. When employees feel they are being underpaid, they might feel the need to do unnecessary things and illegal acts. As a responsible employer, you must understand their concerns and make them feel satisfied with their work and value as an employee.

Safes and Locks. Individuals and organizations have long relied on durable locks and safes to preserve their investments and possessions. Ask a professional locksmith about the type of locks or safes you prefer, so they can install them for you in a manner that you like!

Employment thieves should be held accountable for their actions against their employer by training them about employment thefts and what consequences they can expect if caught stealing from a business.

It's also important to implement checks and balances in your business to ensure employment thefts are detected and stopped before they cause severe damage.

How to Spot When Employees Steal?

Employee theft occurs in many forms. Small thefts are common, such as employees stealing a few dollars from the cash register or stealing supplies without permission.

Other employment thieves make more significant decisions with more immense consequences- such as stealing trade secrets or taking customers' personal information.

Employment Theft Checklists:

  • Cash shortages or overages

  • Unreported inventory issues

  • Poor performance on targets and deadlines are missed

  • Personal items are missing from the worksite, such as laptops, phones, tablets, etc.

  • Employees skipping work or arriving late more frequently than before employment theft occurred

  • Unusual changes in behavior, such as anxiety when the boss is around

  • Suspicious use of computers and emails (employees using company devices for personal purposes).

Employers should be aware of the warning signs that employee theft occurs and establish a system to monitor employees' behavior regularly. Making sure employment thieves are accountable for their actions is important to ensure employment thefts don't become more severe in the future.

an employee stealing stapler in the office

Handling Theft in the Workplace

Employee theft is a serious problem, and employment thieves need to be held accountable for their actions against an employer. Once you suspect an employee over theft or other fraudulent acts, don't forget to gather pieces of evidence and take appropriate action, such as terminating the employee or contact the police.

With the right employment policies, you can help protect your business from this type of crime!

But if all these sounds overwhelming for you, and you simply want help implementing these principles into your work environment, let us know!

Our team of experts at Bristol Locksmith is ready and waiting to partner with you on how we might create a plan that prevents employment crimes.

We can do this by understanding the need to install, repair, and maintain different types of locks and safes for your office and other business establishments.

Contact Bristol Locksmith today to get started!

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