If it seems like you just can't hang onto those profits, it might not be your imagination. Research has shown that employee theft is one of the biggest sources of loss for US businesses, costing retailers a staggering $50 billion annually. Here are three reasons your employees are stealing, and what you can do to curb the problem.
It's Just Too Easy
From petty cash drawers that haven't been settled in a while to a loose policy on taste-testing products, sometimes it is just too easy for workers to justify taking a little for themselves. Unfortunately, your definition of easy might be different than employees — especially if they have been with you for a while.
Experienced employees have the advantage of understanding the deeper meaning behind normal routines such as counting inventory, zeroing out the till, and preparing reports. This understanding is only increased when owners decide to cross-train employees, allowing workers to innately understand how different systems tie together.
For example, if you have an employee who was initially hired to help customers and ring up transactions, they might eventually want to branch out to do more around the store. You might decide to let them help with bookkeeping since they are already handling the money.
Unfortunately, offering additional training only makes it easier for workers to spot inconsistencies in your methods, which can help them to justify theft. For instance, a dishonest worker might see an exceptionally busy day with a large return as a reason to celebrate with a little tip, and since they understand bookkeeping, they can quickly cover their tracks.
If you are interested in reducing employee theft, do whatever you can to make the process unattractive. Implement solid controls to count things like cash and safes, and never cross-train employees in areas that could create a conflict of interest.
While you might assume that a worker would be tempted to snag a few dollars if their till was over, most employers are surprised to learn that one of the biggest reasons employees steal is simple revenge.
In research conducted by Jerald Greenberg, an organizational behavior expert, he found that workers were much more likely to steal in order to "get even" with their employers than because of any other driving factor. Field studies showed that workers who felt like they were being treated unfairly were far more likely to steal than employees who were satisfied with their job and happy with management.
To ward off the urge to hurt your business by stealing, conduct regular sit-downs with your workers to see how they are feeling about their job. Focus on paying employees fairly and being kind during day-to-day interactions. You never know, your simple acts of kindness could be enough to prompt them to do the right thing.
Studies have also shown that workers are more likely to steal when there is a company culture of having sticky fingers since workers can grow suspicious of employees who aren't participating in bad behavior.
One easy way to remedy this problem is by creating a confidential employee hotline or email account where workers can report problems. Another great way to identify problems is to work with a team of security personnel to monitor your workers. Some businesses even have security teams work undercover, making it easy to discover wrongdoing in the workplace.
Safeguard your company by working with security professionals like the team at Protection Plus Inc. With a vast knowledge of the security industry and a staunch commitment to doing the right thing, this team can help you to turn your company around. Start enjoying a happier team and a healthier company by making your entire business safer.