Stop, Thief

If your business has ever been impacted by employee theft, you’ll know just how damaging it can be. Because contrary to popular belief, it’s not just a financial burden. It can impact everything from operations to employee satisfaction. And the bad news is that this issue is widespread, with 5167 incidences of employee theft reported in 2021 alone (statista). On top of this, businesses in the UK lose £190 million every year due to employee theft (TheCircularBoard).

So if you’ve found your business to be a victim of employee theft, you aren’t alone. Fortunately, it is possible to prevent this issue with some thorough checks. To reduce the risk of employee theft in your business, make sure to use the following tips.

Monitor CCTV regularly
While it may sound like the obvious solution, many businesses don’t monitor their cameras regularly, despite it being one of the best ways to reduce theft. This is because most businesses wait until something goes wrong before checking the CCTV. While security cameras are useful in these moments, skimming through footage until you see an incident of theft occur doesn’t show you the big picture.

If you regularly monitor your CCTV, you’ll be able to spot patterns occurring. For example, even if you don’t catch thefts on camera, you can see who is on shift and in the area when the events take place. These cameras can also act as a deterrent for thieves, so you may immediately notice a reduction in thefts or missing stock after informing workers you will be checking the footage regularly.

Do thorough background checks
Doing a comprehensive background check before hiring a member of staff is vital not just to prevent employee theft, but to protect the rest of your colleagues too. You can easily find out more about the background of a potential employee in a number of ways, including by checking:

Criminal records: Hiring someone who has committed a crime and spent time in jail can be a good thing — it’s important that ex-offenders are given second chances and a fresh start in life. But if their crime involves theft, particularly workplace theft, this could be a risky move.

certificates: Cross referencing the information on a candidate’s CV with their education certificates is a good way to gauge the credibility of their application, and how trustworthy they are as a person.

References: Ask all potential employees for at least two solid references before taking them on, and make sure to keep an eye out for fake references, too.

Keep an organized warehouse
A thieving employee can take advantage of a disorganized warehouse. Disorganization can lead to products going missing, which makes it easier for stolen goods to slip under the radar. Plus, if the warehouse is a mess, an employee can sneak goods out without being noticed.

Make sure to keep your warehouse as tidy as possible. If you find that the area is too cramped, reassess your floorplan and consider changing it up to make the most of any dead space. Encourage employees to keep the warehouse as tidy as possible too, and do a training session on organization if necessary.

Explain the dangers and implications of theft to staff
Your staff will obviously know that employee theft is not tolerated, but they may not understand the extent of damage that it can create for your company. This is why it’s a good idea to explain how employee theft effects staff on every level, not just management.

Tell them how the financial burden of regular employee theft may lead to cutbacks on hours and company bonuses, and that a severe situation could even lead to job losses. You should also make clear the consequences of both the theft itself and being an accessory to the crime. Explain that it isn’t just their job on the line — they will likely be facing a criminal record if they get involved.

Treat your staff well
While there’s no doubt that some employees do set out to steal from the get-go, many of your employees won’t start off with bad intentions. The reality is that many employees steal because they are unhappy at work. In fact, one survey found that 12.9 percent of employees who have stolen did so because their boss is rude, and a further 20.8 percent did it because they feel they are underpaid (The Interview Guys).

While these reasons are never excuses for theft, they show that employees who feel undervalued and unappreciated are more likely to steal. So, to combat this, create a positive working environment. Make staff feel appreciated by encouraging them and congratulating them on a job well done. And try to pay all staff at least a living wage. As well as boosting staff morale, this will save your company money in the long term as it will reduce the likelihood of employee theft occurring.

Don’t let employee theft stop your business from thriving! Use the tips above to prevent staff from stealing your goods and boost the morale of your team.

Kelly Friel
Kelly Friel works at Zoro, an industrial tool supplier that helps companies make workplace safety a priority by providing reliable tools and PPE for a competitive price. The company has high-quality resources for every industry, offering everything from office supplies to power tools. It takes pride in offering exceptionally speedy delivery and superior customer service. Zoro stocks over 400,000 products, from some of the most loved brands.