Manage A Retail Store? 3 Great Ways To Combat Employee Theft

Posted on: 4 October 2016

You might not be worried about your employees stealing, but you probably should be. In the United States, employee theft outpaces normal consumer retail theft, accounting for as much as 43% of lost revenue. Employee theft costs American businesses a staggering 18 billion dollars every year, crippling bottom lines and making it difficult for owners to stay in business. Fortunately, you might be able to curb these all-too-common five-finger employee discounts by doing these three simple things:

1. Beware of Cross-Training

To save time and money, many business owners cross-train their employees, which involves teaching workers the skills required to fulfill other responsibilities within the same organization. To a lot of small business owners, cross-training just makes sense. After all, why hire a separate bookkeeper when your cashiers have a lot of downtime in the morning? Unfortunately, this age-old practice comes along with a few risks, including making it much, much easier for workers to steal.

For example, a worker trained to cashier and handle bookkeeping adjustments might be able to take coupons or cash and then cover their actions later, or a receiver trained to handle invoices could walk off with an extra box or two of product without being detected.

To ward off these behaviors, think carefully about who you choose to cross train and how their new set of tasks could create conflicts of interest. Think about how the jobs relate to one another, and whether or not it might disrupt the normal checks and balances system.

2. Hire an Independent Security Team

Oftentimes, business owners choose to hire internally for things like security, relying on older, trusted employees to oversee their operation. Unfortunately, promoting existing employees to monitor security is just another way of cross training workers, which can create problems. For example, a security guard might be tempted to look the other way if they catch an old coworker doing something they shouldn't be, or they might unintentionally disclose their schedule to the wrong person, making it easier for others to pilfer your proceeds.

Fortunately, business owners can avoid these kinds of problems by hiring an independent security team. Independent companies that offer security services train their employees to handle a wide range of loss-prevention issues, helping you to catch issues early and resolve them legally. Security guards also offer an objective view of your employee workflow, making it much easier to catch workers who aren't following the rules.

If you are concerned about the cost of hiring an independent security detail, you shouldn't be. Although costs vary from agency to agency, security guard wages start at around $10 an hour, making private security affordable for any business owner. Contact an agency like Intellex Security for more information.

3. Audit Your Inventory

At the end of the quarter, you might head into the office to worry about your financials while the rest of your team counts all those boxes and shelved products. Unfortunately, assuming that inventory counts are correct can pave the way for dishonest employees to take products throughout the quarter and on the actual inventory counting day.

To combat retail theft, always audit inventory totals on the actual counting day and at random times throughout the year. Walk through your store with the actual employee who counted the products and check their totals against invoices and receiving documents. Although auditing might be awkward at first, the process will seem like normal protocol after you do it a few times. However, workers will be much less likely to steal if they know that their boss is watching carefully.   

By doing what you can to ward off employee theft, you might be able to keep your business healthy and strong.