Employee Theft Can Lead to Unhappy Holidays

Employee TheftIt’s hard to believe the Christmas season is just around the corner.  Large amounts of money will be spent on the perfect gifts or donated to favorite charities.  To handle the volume of additional business and customers, many stores and organizations hire seasonal employees to maintain great customer service.  After all, for many stores, a large percentage of their total annual revenue is generated during this two-month period.  With so much money changing hands, I have to ask myself if these businesses are doing everything possible to minimize employee theft.

Not long ago, eHow.com published a list of the Seven Most Common Employee Scams.  It included receipt forging, hiding receipts, pocketing loose change, completing a bogus return, an employee partnering with a non-employee friend, overbilling expenses, and good old fashioned theft (walking out the door without paying).

If you operate or manage a business, what precautions have you taken to minimize the chances of employee theft?  Do you have a comprehensive preemployment process that includes an in-depth check on an applicant’s background?  Do you follow up on references from previous employers? Have you considered requiring employees to sign written guidelines their first day on the job?

Many companies and organizations I’ve worked with build checks and balances into company procedures such as never allowing an employee to handle large sums of cash without a second person accompanying them.  Others break up the financial responsibilities so no one person ever has full control of the company’s finances.  Another great way to keep everyone accountable is to have employees check their fellow co-workers’ bags, purses, etc. before they leave the store after their shift. 

I’m confident there are many other preventive measures a business can take.  What approaches have you used?  What’s worked for you?  I’d love to hear how you have handled this tough problem.

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