We hear more about shoplifting, but employee theft costs businesses in the U.S. $50 billion per year, according to one report. Small and mid-sized businesses get hit harder than large companies, perhaps because they have fewer resources to fight it.
But sitting back and accepting employee theft isn’t a good idea, for obvious reasons.
Read on for five strategies for keeping your business safe from internal theft.
1. Don’t Give One Person Too Much Power
Giving one person sole power over things like money and merchandise sets your company up for trouble. If one person controls the purse strings, they can also take steps to cover up any fraudulent activities they’re committing.
That’s why smart businesses have two people count the cash register at the end of every night. Similarly, if your business usually has one person do inventory at the end of every week, it’s worth training another person to do the same thing so the two employees can alternate weeks.
You may think that person who signs the checks would never dream of embezzling money. You may be right, but having one or two other people who can and do perform the same duties removes a lot of the temptation.
2. Boost Security
You don’t want to treat your employees like criminals, because you shouldn’t hire people if you don’t think you can trust them.
That said, there’s such a thing as being too trusting. Adding a security guard to the company premises can help protect your business.
A good security firm will work with you if you come to them and say you’re trying to prevent internal theft. They can find ways to keep an eye on employees without making anybody suspicious.
3. Write Things Down
Yes, paperwork can be annoying, but there are situations where you need a written set of policies you can point to and say, “This is why.” Internal theft is one of those situations.
The employee handbook should have clear rules regarding what will happens if there’s evidence of an employee stealing. There should be no room for debate.
It should also define what employee theft means. Some people think it only means stealing money from a business, but there’s more to it than that.
For instance, if you run a dental office and find out an employee is giving away dental cleanings to family members and billing someone else’s insurance? That’s both fraud and theft.
4. Run Background Checks
You may think you can tell how honest a person is just by shaking their hand and looking them in the eye. But if you aren’t already running background checks, start doing it.
If you are running them, consider expanding their scope a bit, as long as you can do so in a way that’s not too invasive. Background checks won’t catch everything, but they’ll catch the most glaring red flags.
5. Review Everything
Having a solid anti-theft program in place is no reason to get complacent. Review your rules and procedures periodically to make sure they’re still working.
If the numbers aren’t getting better, try to figure out why. There may be an innocent explanation, but you deserve answers either way.
Living with Employee Theft
There are measures you can take to reduce employee theft, but it’s a fact of life that every business owner has to deal with at least once or twice. When it happens, a swift, aggressive response will send an unmistakable message.
If you’re looking to replace an employee fired for theft, we can match you with qualified dental professionals who don’t have character issues.
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