Tips on reducing staff theft
It is estimated 25% of all people are permanently dishonest and 50% are honest or dishonest depending on the work environment and the opportunities or temptations presented. Therefore, it is up to you, the business owner, to ensure those 50% remain honest.
While it's impossible to completely protect your business from staff theft, there are a number of precautions that you can take to reduce the chances of it happening. The following are some ideas for you to consider:
The best place to start is with recruitment. Even if you're only employing Saturday staff or part-timers, check their references. It's the casual staff that you need to pay the most attention to. The most likely thieves are part timers and those who've been employed for less than a year.
Explain the security controls operating in your business and make sure everybody knows what will happen to them if they're caught stealing - not what CAN happen, but what WILL happen.
Ensure the lines of authority and responsibility are clearly defined. Staff need to know who they're responsible to and for. That way you stand a much better chance of a member of your team confiding in you if somebody is stealing.
Implement an employment contract form, which clearly outlines the employer's rights to restrict employee activities, including the right to search personal bags and parcels as they leave the premises. This is a big deterrent because it weeds out potential thieves.
Put in place systems that will alert you to possible staff theft problems. For example, you should be able to average out cash flow and sales over a week and over a month. This allows you to build up a picture of how much you should be taking on say, a Wednesday in August.
Once you have that information, you can then spot any anomalies, you can see if takings or stock levels are abnormally down. It's also worth doing a few sums to work out the average sale per checkout person, which makes it easier to work out if a particular person is not ringing goods through the till. This also sends a message to your staff that you're keeping a close eye on your business.
It is often the build up of cash in the till which tempts the employee to steal. Only sufficient cash needs to be in the till to give change of a $100 note. All the surplus notes should be regularly removed.
One of the easiest ways for staff to pocket cash is to simply not ring items through the till. Set up a system whereby a note has to be made every time the till is opened without a sale going through. If one person makes more 'no sales' than other staff members, either there's a training issue (they don't know how to use the till) or there's something more sinister going on that you need to investigate.
Carry out regular spot checks on cash registers. This will detect a dishonest employee who is taking money from the change float and then making up the amount from ready money sales through the day.
Be aware that dishonest employees often work with friends and relatives who are undercharged or not charged at all for some items.
Lead by example
If staff see a manager or employer carrying out the smallest dishonest act it will encourage them to do the same. Do not set a double standard of moral and ethical conduct.
Assess each person
Make sure they are matched to their job. Do not place a member of staff in such a position they are forced to cheat or lie about their performance because they are unable to do their work. Lying and cheating is only a small step away from theft.
Early waning signs
Be alert to employees who: -
Care for your staff
If you expect respect from your staff then you in turn must show respect for them. Show a careful interest in your staff as individuals. Staff who feel they are looked after properly at work are less likely to be dishonest.
Other security considerations