How Businesses Can Fight Back Against Employee Theft

Currently, up to 78% of all workplaces monitor their employees — and for good reason. U.S. loses amounted to $50 billion a year due to employee internal theft. It’s time to fight back against this far too common threat. 

It’s reported that the FBI has found that employee theft, which they refer to as “shrinkage” is the fastest growing crime in the United States. American companies lose 7% of their yearly revenue to theft or employee fraud.

“We are seeing dramatic changes in the risks faced by retailers, and loss prevention practices and priorities are evolving to meet those challenges,” said Bob Moraca, Vice President for Loss Prevention of the National Retail Federation. “As criminals find new ways to steal, loss prevention teams are finding new ways to stop them. Increasingly, this is a battle focused on technology.”

However, it’s not just retail organizations that are at risk of employee theft. Virtually every business across every industry could be affected by internal thievery. In fact, according to a Kessler International loss prevention study, 95% of employees were reportedly stealing from their employers, which was up significantly from a previous study that was conducted by the same researchers in 1999, finding that only 79% of employees reported stealing.

It’s time for leadership to take a more active role in protecting their businesses from internal thievery — here’s how to do it. Here are some great tips for preventing employee theft in your workplace:

  • Utilize surveillance cameras — Nearly half of all employers who are utilizing surveillance cameras have noticed decreases in the amount of employee theft. You don’t have to hide the cameras and try to catch your employees stealing, but simply setting a few video monitoring devices around your establishment will certainly deter someone from making a move.
  • Create a confidential tip line — Tips from other employees are actually the number one way that businesses were alerted about workplace theft. Since most employees are loyal, they will likely feel aggrieved to know their peers are stealing from their place of work. Make it easy for them to anonymously report their suspicions and investigate every account.
  • Make your employees feel valued — Approximately 16% of people say it takes something out of the ordinary for them to feel gratitude. If your employees don’t feel valued by you, your company, or their coworkers, the likelihood of them attempting to steal from the business is much higher. Take some time and show genuine interest in your team to build a solid working relationship — trust will develop and they won’t attempt to steal from your company down the line. Take, for instance, your customer service employee. He or she might begin to feel discouraged in certain work environments — but if you constantly show them their worth and that you’re grateful for them, they’ll likely continue to work hard and won’t attempt anything illegal. Show them that about 46% of consumers still prefer speaking directly to a customer service rep.

    Even just allowing them to design their workspace can do wonders. Exeter University’s School of Psychology found that when employees have control over the design and layout of their workspace, they can be up to 32% more productive, with signals of them being both happier and healthier.

Being a trusting person is a great leadership quality — but you can’t be too trustworthy. Once your employees have proved themselves worthy of your trust, great. But until then, you don’t have assume they are out to get you, but it’s best to stay vigilant.

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