Smart businesses invest in security. That means secure doors with digital locks in many cases, it means CCTV all around the outside of the business and it means security software on the computer. All this will help you to better defend yourself against the 'enemy without', but what about the enemy within? Office theft is defined as the misuse or theft of an employer's assets without permission, normally by someone within that organization.
This theft doesn't necessary always mean steeling cash then, it can actually take many forms. Office or employee theft describes theft of any of the following assets:
- Money – Of course employees steeling money out of the till is perhaps the most straightforward and obvious form that theft can take
- Time – If your staff are just standing around chatting while you're paying them, that means that you aren't getting your money's worth. As a result, they are effectively steeling that money from you.
- Information – Industrial espionage is a serious threat. If your employees are steeling your contacts, your plans or your intellectual property in order to sell to your competition or to go into competition against you themselves, then you will find this can severely hurt your profits in the long term.
The Rising Threat
It's very difficult to clamp down on office theft without looking as though you don't trust your own staff and the fact that you need to give your employees access to your belongings and your private information means that you will be leaving yourself open to attack.
But this is something you really need to work to prevent. In 2012, statistics show that businesses lost over $50,000,000,000 as a result of employee theft. In another recent study, it was found that one in every thirty six members of staff will at some point get caught stealing from their employers – that's right, those are just the ones who get caught.
We're not just talking a few bits of stationery here then and all signs are showing that these figures are on the rise.
So What Can You do to Stop It?
With all this in mind then, what can you do to prevent this kind of theft? Here are some quick suggestions:
- Hire the Right Staff – This is the first and most important thing you can do to start cutting down employee theft. If you hire trustworthy members of staff to begin with, then this way you'll be less likely to be betrayed later on.
- Use CCTV within your premises – This will protect your staff and your customers but it will also potentially help you to track down thieves and to prevent threats from within your organization. It may feel a little draconian, but it is your right as an employer to monitor your premises.
- Consider layout and policy – Most examples of 'petty theft' will be crimes of opportunity. It's important from your perspective then not to 'make it easy' for your staff to steel. Make sure you have at least two members of staff present at any time and organize your premises to be open plan keeping everything visible.