Employee theft & crime is a real possibility to consider as a business owner. Whether we like it or not, the people we bring into our business can be the very same people who have the potential of ruining it, so as an employer, it’s important to be aware of the negative possibilities as well as the steps you can take to prevent them. Here are five types of employee crimes & dishonesty to watch out for.
This is one of the most common types of employee crimes because employees are given a certain level of trust within a business. By definition, embezzlement is the fraudulent taking of personal property by someone who has been entrusted with it. As such, embezzlement is usually difficult to deal with and can lead to emotional trauma on both sides. Employees have special access to money or valuable information and therefore it is usually relatively easy for them to gain access to and carry out embezzlement plans. Embezzlement can take many forms from stealing cash to merchandise to anything that is of value and entrusted to that person. There are a variety of techniques employees can use to carry out such embezzlements, and it’s up to you as an employer to pay attention to changes in records and monitor loss. You must be careful about whom you hire and trust as an employee, but it’s important not to suspect everyone of potential embezzlement or you could create a hostile working environment. Instead, create detailed forms of record keeping and be sure to check them over on a regular basis. Install security cameras to review in case of a problem. Create an environment that encourages open conversation and honesty so employees can come to you if they suspect a problem.
Employee sabotage can also take many forms depending on the type of business. This also results from a situation in which employment ends on a bad note or if a current employee is unhappy or feels they are being treated unfairly. Rather than seeking personal gain, an employee will seek to harm the well being of the business as a form of revenge. This can include wiping computer databases, tampering with products, deliberate non-performance, or even extreme cases that can cause physical harm to employers and other employees. The most common cases of employee sabotage include the attempt to disrupt the operation of a company or damage a company’s reputation. As such, it is not usually a crime such as embezzlement in which an employee actually takes things, but it still can cost the company a great deal of money in the loss of unhappy clients or to compensate for the disruption of operation as a result of the act(s) of sabotage. Employees are much more likely to commit sabotage when they feel their employer has done them wrong, so for this reason it’s especially important to foster positive relationships with employees and create an open door policy to eliminate cases of harmful misunderstanding.
Misuse of Assets
Slightly different than embezzlement, employees are often given access to products or resources that they can use for work-related purposes, but can sometimes be misused for personal purposes. This is a fine line, which many employees cross without malice or without realizing the potential harm they are doing. This can be something as simple as printing something with a company printer that the employee forgot to print at home or using company time (not a personal break) to take a personal phone call. Many of these misuses don’t make much of a difference on their own, but built up over time can cost the company money. As an employer, make sure you set boundaries on how employees can use company assets and try to enforce these limits if you see or hear of a misuse of assets by an employee. Often, the employee doesn’t realize what they are doing is wrong, so a verbal warning is enough, but you may have to create larger repercussions for recurring instances.
Sexual harassment is still a serious problem in the workplace and goes far beyond physical assault. Sexual harassment can be as simple as unwanted or unsolicited flirting or an inappropriate joke. Basically anything—physical or verbal—which makes someone else feel uncomfortable constitutes as sexual harassment and can be grounds for a lawsuit whether you’re an employee, a manager, or a customer. Similar to sexual harassment are discriminatory instances of harassment, which make anyone feel uncomfortable about their race, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. Be clear as to what is and what is not appropriate in the workplace when hiring new employees and create clear consequences for violations. If your company does not have a Human Resources department, consider creating one to help prevent these instances and ensure a comfortable workplace.
Employee vandalism can take many forms and be part of a larger issue of sabotage or harassment, but is a serious offence that can cost a company to replace vandalized property. Vandalism can be used as a form of acting out against an employer or coworker or it could also be a result of carelessness for property which is not their own. As an employer, you can monitor such cases by installing security cameras and being clear on your policies with dealing with vandalism.
There is no sure way to eliminate the possibility of employee theft from the workplace, but creating a firm and respectful managing technique as well as paying special attention to make your employees feel valued and respected will create an environment in which such instances are unlikely.