It often starts small — a few pens here, a few notepads or paper clips there. It doesn’t seem like much at first, but before you know it, employee theft can grow into an epidemic that can cost your business hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year and spread like a virus until it infects numerous areas and employees within your operation.
If you are looking for ways to decrease losses within your business due to employee theft, here are some areas of internal security that you may want to consider. It’s often easier to eliminate the temptation of theft ahead of time than to deal with the harsh reality of employee theft, and the tough decisions and consequences that come along with it, once it’s arrived.
Keeping a close eye on your inventory is one of the best ways to pinpoint employee theft, should you suspect it is occurring. Taking timely and accurate supply and product inventory may not only be beneficial to your cost analysis but also in looking for any odd trends or usage that may be occurring. You might consider making inventory day a surprise to keep sticky-fingered employees on their toes. When they don’t know it’s coming, the temptation to help themselves to a few items here and there may be decreased.
It is also important to consider who is conducting the inventory. It may be a good idea to have multiple employees involved, often from separate departments (or at least one member from an outside department) and of various levels. An example of this might be a restaurant inventory within a hotel. The head chef (a department manager) and a member of accounting (an outside and unrelated department) take the kitchen inventory on a monthly basis on a date to be determined by the hotel’s Controller (also an outside and impartial party).
If you find there is a possible theft problem, you might want to utilize security cameras in high-risk areas or for supply areas that are used more heavily. Security cameras may also be beneficial in places where you have more valuable inventory. A camera system however, can be expensive. If you don’t have the money to maintain a functioning camera system, a lower-priced option might be to purchase and mount non-functioning cameras as a deterrent. This won’t work though if employees are aware the cameras are non-functioning.
A cheaper option still, is to keep your inventory under lock and key, which brings me to the next topic — key control.
Proper Key Control
When you are utilizing a key system for your business, ensuring the whereabouts of keys is critical to the success of your program. There are multiple methods for ensuring proper key control, from having a “sign-in” and “sign-out” sheet to keeping electronic logs through a key box or key reading system. Whatever your method, it is important that you track the location of keys, restrict the availability of high importance areas on an ‘as need’ basis, as well as restrict or limit the availability of master keys or keys that provide access to areas that aren’t necessary for certain employees’ job duties.
When keys are lost or not returned in a timely matter, it can be critical to the success of your key program that you ensure copies have not been made, and that there is a level of disciplinary action to go along with key program violations. Enforcing disciplinary measures will illustrate that you are aware of infractions, help keep employees from abusing the system, and hopefully help keep their hands out of your pockets!
This article is for informational purposes only. The author is not a security professional, analyst, specialist or advisor. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.