Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Preventing Theft from Your Small Business

How to Protect Information in Your Home Office

small business theft
Almost every company, especially those who work in the retail industry, are concerned about theft. When we think of this topic it generally revolves around individuals outside the company taking things that are valuable or important to the organization. But the statistics surrounding employee theft are staggering – almost 75% of employees have admitted to stealing from their employer and over 30% of all company bankruptcies are caused by employee theft. Small business owners should also be concerned about theft from within their business, especially if they are working from a home office.

Do Thorough Background Investigations on Applicants

When looking to hire an employee to work in a home office, it is usually most important for small business owners to find someone who they feel comfortable having in their home. While a gut reaction is usually a pretty good indication, it is also important to do thorough background investigations on anyone you are considering bringing aboard. Gender, educational level and economic background as well as past criminal records can all be indicators of whether or not someone is likely to consider stealing from the business. It is important to remember, however, that pre-employment background check laws vary so make sure to be abreast of the most recent rules on the subject.

Pay Attention to Employee Dispositions

Even if an applicant has passed the background check process with flying colors, it is also important to observe how they act when they begin working for you. Employees who are unhappy with their job, the company they work for or their boss are generally more likely to steal from the company as an act of revenge. Pay attention to warning signs such as a drastic change in behavior, being overly territorial of working space or working long hours when the business owner is not around. Additionally, keep a close eye on important documents such as financial records – if something goes missing or an unexplained charge arises make sure to investigate the situation fully.

Make Fraud Protection a Culture

Hiding concerns about theft and fraud will make employees feel as though they can steal from the organization easily. Make sure to express concerns about these topics and breed a culture of vigilantly protecting against it. When new employees are hired, make sure to fully communicate what is considered theft and what the consequences for these actions are. If employees who are prone to stealing know you are on the lookout they may be less likely to commit the crime. It is also important to make employees feel comfortable and confident about reporting suspicious behavior – employee tips are usually the best way to catch fraudulent actions before they get out of hand.

Theft and fraud are serious crimes against a company, and they are more impactful and distressing when they come from an employee. Making sure to screen applicants before hiring, explaining the company’s policy on theft and keeping a close eye out for strange behavior are all effective ways to help reduce or eliminate the threat of these crimes happening within your business. While it is not productive to be suspicious of every employee that walks through the door it is vitally important to protect your business and your livelihood from those individuals who wish to hurt it.

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