No business owner wants to think that their employees are capable of theft, but the fact of the matter is it happens. According to a study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, employee theft accounts for 7% of all business losses. As a business owner, it’s essential to be aware of the signs of employee theft and know how to deal with it if it does happen.
Signs That an Employee May Be Stealing From Your Business
There are a few key signs that you can watch out for that may indicate that an employee is stealing from your business:
1. Sudden financial problems or an unexplained need for money.
If an employee is experiencing financial difficulties, they may be tempted to steal from your business to make ends meet.
2. A change in behavior or attitude.
Someone who is usually friendly and outgoing may suddenly become withdrawn or hostile. This can be a sign that they’re feeling guilty about something.
3. Unexplained absences or tardiness.
An employee who is regularly late or absent may use work time to conduct personal business, such as selling stolen goods.
4. Refusal to take vacation days or leave early.
Some people are reluctant to take time off because they worry that their thefts will be discovered in their absence.
5. Loose lips.
Someone who talks about their financial problems or expresses envy of others’ possessions may be trying to rationalize their theft by explaining that they deserve what they’re taking.
6. An obsessive need for privacy or secrecy.
An employee who locked their office door or cubicle or guarded their computer screen against view may be trying to hide something from you.
If you notice any of these signs in an employee, you must take action immediately to prevent further losses for your business.
How to Deal With Employee Theft
If you discover that an employee has been stealing from your business, there are a few steps you need to take:
1. Determine the extent of the theft and how long it has been going on.
This will help you determine how much money has been stolen and whether or not criminal charges should be filed. Take some time to gather the evidence before confronting the employee so that you have all the facts straight before taking action. If the employee is still stealing, you may want to install surveillance cameras or hire a private investigator to help you gather evidence.
2. Improve your office security.
If you want to prevent employee theft in the future, it’s essential to improve the security in your office. This may include installing security cameras, locking up valuable items, or changing door locks. Consider using a high-quality push button lock that requires a code to enter the office to make it more difficult for unauthorized individuals to access specific rooms in your business.
3. Talk to the employee about your concerns and give them a chance to explain themselves.
If they come up with a reasonable explanation for the behavior you observed, you can decide whether or not further action needs to be taken. Of course, there is no valid reason for stealing, but if they seem genuinely remorseful and are willing to make things right, you may decide to give them another chance. However, if they don’t have a good explanation or if they try to lie about what’s going on, then it’s time to take more definitive action.
4. Refer the matter to law enforcement if appropriate.
You need to contact the police so that they can investigate the matter and decide whether or not charges should be filed. In some cases, it may be best to let law enforcement handle the situation so that your company isn’t dragged into a lengthy and public legal battle.
5. Terminate the employee’s employment if necessary.
In most cases, firing an employee who has stolen from your business will be enough of a punishment. Suppose you decide to pursue legal action against the employee. In that case, the termination will also make it easier for you to prove that they stole from you since they won’t have access to company resources anymore. Don’t forget to change the locks on doors and any other security measures you have in place so that the employee can’t come back and steal from you again.
Dealing with employee theft can be difficult, but taking action immediately is important if you suspect someone on your team is stealing from your business. Taking quick and decisive action can minimize losses for your company and protect its reputation. Always consult with an attorney before taking any legal action to ensure that you take the appropriate steps for your business.