Are You Vulnerable to Employee Theft?

employment screening, employee background check, pre-employment screeningLast week, we reported on employee theft in retailing, and a recent report that stated that more losses occur due to employee theft than to than to shoplifters.

Any business is vulnerable to theft by employees, whether you’re selling widgets or washing machines. You don’t even have to be in the business of selling merchandise to be victimized by employees who steal.

Here are some examples of what dishonest employees may take out the door:

Trade Secrets: Employers who build successful businesses have done so because they do things a certain way, or offer a service or product that people want. If you’ve “built a better mousetrap” by instituting procedures or systems that work, your competition will likely want to know how you did it. What better way to find out than through an employee or former employee? And often, employees leave to start their own competing businesses, built on the successful model someone else worked hard to create.

Unearned pay: Employees with access to payroll systems can falsify work records to generate higher paychecks for themselves or their buddies.

Sensitive Data: Your company files are a treasure trove for identity thieves. Sensitive information like social security numbers, credit card numbers, birthdates and family information can help identity thieves access credit and wreck your or your employees’ finances.

Money: Countless businesses are victimized by employees—from unscrupulous bookkeepers to petty thieves—who skim cash out of the bank account or cash register. Watch for issues around drug or alcohol abuse, or complaints about not getting paid enough. If an employee’s lifestyle changes, with frequent purchases of expensive items or vacations, take a close look at your books. Be careful to conduct all due diligence before making any accusations.

Productivity: If your employees are average, they may be visiting social media sites or conducting personal business on the clock, causing you a loss of productivity.

Workplace theft is a serious problem for employers. The best guards against it are strong policies and procedures that are backed up by action. Stay on top of what’s going on in your business and immediately deal with any infractions of your theft policies. When other employees see theft is not tolerated, they’ll get the message.

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