Unfortunately, many businesses fall subject to employee theft at one time or another. However, that doesn’t make it acceptable.
In the UK alone, employee theft and fraud is estimated to cost businesses a massive £230 million. If your business is suffering from employee theft, you don’t have to simply put up with the problem. With the right approach, you can gain the evidence you need to act.
Read on to find out how to catch and stop employee theft in your workplace. But first…
What are the different types of employee theft?
Employee theft can vary wildly, but there are a few common types. The first step is to familiarise yourself with the different types of threat within your own business:
- Larceny – Larceny is one of the most common forms of employee theft. In laymen’s terms, larceny is stealing the property of a business. For example, someone would be committing larceny if they were to take cash from a store’s cash register.
- Skimming – Skimming often involves the theft of money. This money is usually not recorded by the business before it’s stolen. For instance, a cashier may be able to skim money before it is recorded in the business finances. This type of theft can be difficult to detect without thorough investigation.
- Fraud – Fraud is typically a very serious type of theft. Fraud is most often committed by an employee with a vast knowledge of the business. Fraud could involve an employee who pays himself more than he should. It could be someone who creates fake accounts with suppliers to get goods. Or, it could be someone who forges signatures to pay for goods they then steal.
- Data theft – The protection of data is taken very seriously these days. In some ways, it’s why data is now considered so valuable. For example, client data and information could be sold to a competitor.
How do I prevent employee theft?
Any of these types of theft can have a direct effect on the future of a business. Employee theft can lead to reduced profits, the possibility of closure and even bankruptcy. However, there are things you can do to limit the chances of your business being targeted by thieves.
Here are four ways to stop employee theft in the workplace:
1. Hire the right people
Your screening and interview processes are extremely important when it comes to stopping employee theft. Although it’s impossible to entirely eliminate employee theft, knowing as much as you can about your employees in advance will go a long way.
Extensive background checks will help ensure you don’t miss any past illegal activities. Checking references can be revealing too. However, the work ethic and personality of a person are often tell-tale signs too.
2. Keep your eyes open
If you notice sudden behaviour changes in an employee, it could indicate theft or the very possibility at least. Someone who suddenly wants to work late every evening or starts to brag about a lifestyle outside of their salary range should be monitored closely.
If you suspect an employee of drug or alcohol abuse, heavy gambling or moonlighting, alarm bells should be ringing. It’s important to supervise your employees so they know that their chances of theft without being caught are slim.
3. Control your finances
Finances are the backbone of any business, so it’s vital you put them in the right hands. Business accounts should be checked, and double checked by more than one person. If one person is responsible for payments, receipts, payroll and taxes, there’s far more freedom for that person to skim money.
If you run a small business and finance operatives are limited, perform unannounced regular checks by an outside accountant. Your employees will know they can be audited at any time, which is a powerful deterrent.
4. Be approachable
It’s far more likely that your employees will witness theft in the workplace than you. Are you approachable enough for your honest employees to report theft to you?
If your employees feel comfortable enough to report any fraudulent behaviour anonymously, you’re far more likely to hear about it.
In order to do this, your employees need to know you have an open-door policy and they won’t be punished if they get things wrong. You should also be prepared to verify any claims made to you and get legal counsel if the crime is on a large scale.
What should I do if I suspect someone of theft?
When you suspect someone of theft, you should begin to document everything. Not only will this help you to uncover the truth, but it will also provide the police with the information they need to make a formal prosecution, if necessary.
There are times when finding out the truth can be extremely difficult. If an employee is good at covering their tracks, you may not be able to get the evidence you need to act. In instances like this, a professional private investigator may be able to gather the proof needed. As an employer, it will be your decision as to what happens next. In most cases, the employee is dismissed, but there are times when only a formal warning is needed.
Always ensure that you are following the correct procedures for dismissal, in accordance with your employee’s contract and your business procedures. If in doubt, check the government guidelines on staff dismissals.
Once you have uncovered and prevented internal theft, it’s important to review your internal workplace processes. Could you make changes to prevent similar acts of theft in your workplace again? Are there other obvious areas which can be improved upon?
Making changes to reflect what’s happened can go a long way to ensuring they don’t happen again. Whether it’s supervising employees more closely, installing CCTV systems or checking finances more thoroughly, making adjustments can lead the way for a better future. This is especially true if you plan on expanding your business and adding new employees to your team.
Do you need help with employee theft in your workplace?
There are times when you can resolve employee theft on your own. However, this won’t always be the case. And that last thing you want to do is simply put up with employee theft or – even worse – point the figure at the wrong person.
When employee theft happens, you need to act quickly and with absolute certainty.
If you need help with employee theft employee, look no further. At Hunter Surveillance Services, we offer a range of corporate private investigation services, with bespoke packages to suit every project and budget. Our highly skilled team will get the job done quickly and discreetly – providing you with the evidence you need to act.
Call us today on 0808-281-2512 to find out more. You deserve the truth.