Dealing with internal theft is one of the worst situations a business owner can ever face. According to Statistic Brain 33% of all business bankruptcies are caused by employee theft. Furthermore, 37.5% of employees have stolen at least twice from their employers. Whether its from an employee, a contractor, or a customer, theft hurts! Such a betrayal from a trusted individual can leave a business owner feeling embarrassed, violated, and vulnerable. But, you don’t have to be that person. As mentioned in our post about External Threats, following some basic security guidelines topped with a 24/7 surveillance system will help prevent theft from many possible directions.
If you haven’t already, implement workplace polices regarding the roles and responsibilities for all of your employees. Make the expectations clear amongst all of them. Each employee should recognize the hierarchy within the workplace, however formal or informal, and understand the duties of the person or persons directly above and below them. Empower your employees to hold each other responsible. Only a fourth of reported fraud comes from tips from employees. Provide an avenue for employees to anonymously report suspected theft. Some companies have even provided financial incentives for employees to report vulnerabilities or possible breaches in security. This is especially helpful if your business has customers and contractors going in and out of multiple buildings throughout the day.
Keep track of who has been given keys to which parts of the workplace; always collect keys when employees no longer need them; and be judicious about changing locks when threats arise. Most other security measures will prove useless if an assistant manager who was terminated last year decides he wants to visit his old job after hours to see if his old key still works. Obviously nearly everyone will think to collect keys from someone they no longer trust, but consider the opposite. What about the person who you trust so much you’ve moved their responsibilities into a more critical area? Do they still need access to their former work space? Imagine your stockroom manager, who has been working with you for years, starting as a store associate, has finally finished his years of studies and obtained his accounting license. You want to offer him a position to use his new abilities. He will have better hours, coming in after the store opens and leaving before it closes. He will have a nice office in the front of the store, and generally will never have to see the stockroom again. You’re entrusting him with so much more than a stockroom. You’re handing off to him the integrity of your financial operations. However, there is no reason now for him to have keys to the store or to the stockroom. The accesses previously given to this person could be a liability were this person, in their new position, to detect a vulnerability that would have been overlooked in their old position.
These examples highlight just a few principles to consider when implementing a security policy. All rules, regulations, procedures, and policies are only as good as the people applying them and therefore subject to error. People make mistakes, overlook things, cut corners etc; however, installing a 24/7 surveillance system is really the cherry on top of a well established security policy. A surveillance system that you can refer back to and check recorded video of the workplace could be the very thing to save your company if ever you become a victim of internal theft.