As you show up each day for work at the small business you own, do you ever wonder in the back of your mind if one of your employees is stealing from you? Perhaps it might be more than one?
Hopefully, not many who run companies have to deal with that thought on a regular basis, yet it is a common-known fact that employee theft in the workplace does occur.
One only has to read a variety of surveys to note that employees do steal, be it a simple little item here or there, or even to go as far as taking money, office equipment like laptops, and even committing identity theft.
As statistics (2012) from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners point out:
* Seven percent of annual revenues are lost to theft or fraud;
* 75 percent of employees have swiped items from their employer at least once;
* 37.5 percent of employees have stolen from their employer at least twice;
* 33 percent of business go bankrupt due to employee theft.
With those numbers in mind, what should you look for when hiring a new employee and overseeing the current ones, hoping to stave off employee theft before it ever strikes?
Among the things to review:
1. Employee backgrounds – While most employers do some form of a background check, it is important in today’s age of identity theft and a tough economy that companies go that extra mile. Expect most people to be honest on their application form when they say they never committed a crime, but always leave open the possibility that they are not being 100 percent truthful with you. Check for any inaccuracies in their stories, check references closely, and make sure they suited for their position. If you are hiring someone for a position involving finances, even a shoplifting conviction should raise your eyebrows;
2. Social media chatter – While some states have gotten tougher with exactly what online information employers can get from applicants, it still behooves you to check their social media chatter where and when you can. As an example, someone who admittedly online notes of having a gambling issue is probably not your first choice to be doing payroll. If an applicant has posted comments or images online of them having stolen from an employer in the past, that should discount them from potential employment with you, no questions asked;
3. Office security – Whether your office security is there to be seen or is hidden from employees, it is worth spending the money to better secure your surroundings. Not only do you lower the chances of an inside theft, but you also protect your workers and your office from outside thieves. Take the time to review your security at intervals during the year to make sure you are getting your money’s worth;
4. There will be consequences – The last and most important item to remember, informing ALL employees from their hire day that there are consequences if caught stealing. Not only can employees be disciplined or even fired if they are found to be committing theft in the office, but they also could be subjected to legal action. Letting employees know from day one that in no shape or manner will stealing be tolerated is important. If you set the right tone from day one, you lessen the odds of becoming a victim.
As you make your new hires in 2013, along with overseeing the employees you already have, keep in mind it just takes one employee to throw your small business world upside down.
About the Author: Dave Thomas covers career and small business topics for various websites, including finding the right home security system.