While many business owners and employees are aware of the more obvious threat that shoplifting poses to their business, many tend to overlook the more serious threat of employee theft. When it comes to the impact that theft can have on your profitability, internal (or employee theft) can have a much more devastating and damaging effect on your shrink and your bottom line. Employee theft is more threatening because it typically occurs regularly, it is more difficult to identify, and the perpetrators know how to avoid detection better than regular shoplifters. Here are a few ways to stop employee theft before it starts, and after it may have already started.
Auditing; it’s something that employees and business owners do regularly to ensure that various business processes are going according to plan. It is important to be aware of what patterns indicate internal theft. For example, if your business conducts audits accounting for merchandise received at the store, you may catch items missing from the shipment. This could be the cause of theft from vendor or distribution center employees, or possibly from your receiving employee. If a pattern is established, you can follow up by beginning your own investigation of your employees, or by working with leadership at the distribution center or with the vendor to stop the loss.
Open lines of communication are another important way of bringing in tips to stop employee theft. In many situations, other employees are aware of strange behavior that a coworker has been exhibiting, and may even have suspicions of theft. This could be based upon empty, open packaging found in the back room, noticing the employee frequently with new items of clothing that the store sells, and other telling behaviors. You’d be surprised how often employees notice these suspicious behaviors about their fellow co-workers. Often times they just don’t know what to do with the information! Educating employees on what behaviors should be reported, how to report them, and providing anonymous means of reporting are great ways to start bringing in tips and will also deter internal theft. Likewise, offering employee incentives for those honest employees who come forward with information may be just enough to get some employees to speak up when they otherwise feel it would not be worth mentioning anything.
Initiating an investigation is usually a final step after you suspect that employee theft may already be occurring. This step is crucial to end employee theft, recover restitution, and prevent further employee theft from cutting further into your profit. It is important to remember to tread lightly when conducting an employee investigation; you never know which other employees may be involved. Use your best judgment when it comes to asking around. Tell-tale signs of theft include patterns of cash shortage, patterns of merchandise shortage, finding empty packages in backroom areas, and several others.
When I worked for loss prevention at a local retail store, I remember walking the stockroom in search of suspicious activity. I found empty packages of merchandise stashed behind and underneath other merchandise, particularly in one area. I would revisit the area daily, and make note of any new findings. Over time, I discovered that a disgruntled employee was stealing merchandise from that area, and writing graffiti on shelves and merchandise packaging. After interviewing the employee, he admitted to over $700.00 worth of theft; all from finding some empty packaging in the back!
For more information contact us at Stop Employee Theft or call 1.770.426.0547