As an employer, you don’t want to think that your employees would ever steal from you or do anything that could hurt your business. Unfortunately, employee theft is far more prevalent than many business owners think. Small businesses are just as vulnerable to employee theft as large corporations. Your employees could steal merchandise, cash, or even the financial information of your customers. There are a number of reasons that employees might be tempted to put some money into their own pockets – financial stress or worry about job security can be motivators. We’ve got some tips to help you protect your business from employee theft.
1. Develop positive relationships with employees and create a positive workplace atmosphere.
The first tip is simple. It’s important that your employees feel appreciated and that they enjoy their jobs. If there’s a mutual respect between you, it will reduce the temptation to steal. It’s harder to steal from someone you care about than someone you don’t.
2. Make sure everyone knows what employee fraud is.
All of your employees should know what constitutes employee theft. It might not occur to them that certain things are considered fraud – for example, giving freebies or discounts to friends. You also need to emphasize that you won’t tolerate it.
3. Consider adding crime coverage to your BOP.
You can further protect your business by adding coverages to your business owner’s policy (BOP.) One coverage that can help you is crime coverage. This protects you against a variety of illegal acts, for example, computer fraud and employee theft. Normally you can add between $1,000 and $5,000 of coverage to your business owner’s policy.
4. Divide up the financial responsibilities.
Make sure that one employee isn’t handling all of the financial duties, such as balancing the books, making deposits, etc. It’s more difficult to get away with stealing when multiple people are watching over the financial details.
Also, make sure that your employees have appropriate oversight by management. Many thefts are of opportunity – the money is there and no one’s around to see an enterprising employee take it.
5. Keep an eye on your inventory.
You should do frequent inventories and internal audits for your business. If your employees know that you’re diligent about checking that everything is as it should be, they’ll be less inclined to try to get away with something. Plus, that’ll make it easier for you to catch any abnormalities, too.
6. Have a security or surveillance system.
A surveillance system or CCTV can help you keep an eye on your premises and dissuade theft of all kinds. This will also help you prevent a burglary at your business. Before you hire a company to outfit your business with cameras and monitoring, do some research about how to choose the right company to install your commercial security system.
7. Use clear trash bags.
It’s a bit gross, but sometimes employees will hide things in the trash and go to retrieve them later. To deter people from doing so, use clear trash bags for all trash cans.
8. Don’t keep lots of cash on-hand.
Deposit money to the bank frequently. If someone does steal cash, better $100 than $500. Do what you can to reduce the amount of cash that you have on-site or in your register.
9. Have a procedure for returns and voids.
Make sure that any returns and voids are properly handled – fraudulent returns are another method of stealing from an employer. They should be witnessed by a second employee to make sure that they’re legit. You can also have your point-of-sale system flag excessive returns and voids so that they’re immediately sent to management.
10. Have a way for employees to report suspicious behavior.
Not that you want to turn your employees into informants, but there should be a way for them to let you know about anything they’ve noticed. Preferably there would be an anonymous way for them to do so – that way they don’t have to worry about retaliation or being seen as a tattletale.
Your employees are a huge asset to your business. They’re what keeps the place going. You want to be able to trust your employees, but that doesn’t mean that you have to leave yourself wide open to the possibility of employee theft. You need to reduce the risk of employee theft and protect your business.
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