Theft in the workplace can be a very tricky situation to deal with. On the one hand, business owners will obviously want to limit losses, get to the bottom of what's happening and punish wrongdoers. However, you also need to tread incredibly careful to avoid creating an atmosphere of distrust in the workplace, accusing the wrong people and perhaps even falling foul of workplace law. The following are some practical tips to help you deal with theft in the workplace and ideally, prevent it from happening in the first place.
Review your policies and procedures
This is an excellent place to start. Your business needs watertight policies in place for dealing with employee theft, and you need to make sure that your employees are well aware of them. Processes and procedures that are written down before anything may happen to help you to remove the emotional element from the situation, so you can act by the book and avoid any claims of discrimination or mistreatment of employees.
Start by letting your employees know that theft of any kind absolutely will not be tolerated within your business, and then put procedures in place for what happens after you discover an instance of theft. This will involve steps such as gathering evidence, questioning witnesses and perhaps even getting the police involved, all the way through to written warnings and dismissal of employees if they are caught stealing.
Conduct regular audit
This is another part of your policies and procedures, but this time to actually identify when a theft has happened. Employee theft can take many forms and be difficult to detect, so you need to keep on top of it by conducting regular stock audits, checking bank accounts and other systems so that all property can be accurately accounted for.
Use cameras carefully to Gather vital evidence
Surveillance cameras can be a big help in preventing and detecting employee theft. Having them in place in areas where goods or property need to be protected, and ensuring they are highly visible, can be a strong deterrent to would-be thieves. Installing cameras after you suspect theft can be a trickier business because you dont want employees to feel that you dont trust them or end up invading anyones privacy.
There are two ways to proceed, the first option involves being open and honest about it. Hold a meeting with your whole team and say that unfortunately, you suspect that someone is stealing and that you've had to install surveillance cameras in a particular area. This will almost certainly prevent further theft, but you may not be able to record evidence of the original perpetrator, leaving you with the knowledge that a thief remains in your employ but is unable to prove it.
The second option is to conceal a camera out of sight at the scene of the crime, allowing you to record hard evidence of the theft with which to confront the employee and follow your established procedures for dismissal.
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