Employee Theft – What Is The Primary Cause?

By Bill Bregar

We know from experience in the loss prevention field that there are many reasons that employees steal.  Greed, want and need are all reasons. We as employers can do little to effect these reasons. The best we can do is screen out potential problems such as candidates with  criminal histories; candidates that have a poor credit history who may be handling our money; and drug abusers top the list.

But what are the CAUSES of employee theft? In the 2010 Global Fraud Study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the leading primary internal control weakness is…”Lack of Internal Controls”. In organizations with less than 100 employees it amounts to 47% (for those with over 100 employees, the percentage is 33.7). There is not even a close second.

Keep in mind that this cause is something that we as business leaders have complete control over. Yet businesses appear to do little – or clearly not enough – to protect the fragile margins we have. I believe that there are two reasons for this.

Number one is that it seems, in many cases, that there is a lack of strong leadership. The kind of leadership that people understand and respect. An understanding by employees at all levels that the company has strong controls in place which will not, under any circumstances, be violated. The violation of these procedures will be met with strict and immediate punishment at all levels. This draws a line in the sand.

Number two is that even when that line in the sand is drawn we find it too hard or we are too busy to maintain it. Because of this, that line in the sand is quickly washed away by the waves. We then find ourselves a year later scratching our heads trying to make sense of why another serious employee theft or series of employee theft incidents have occurred. It is imperative for the sake of your business that you set procedures in place and maintain them constantly.

Want to get employee theft under control once and for all? Make your line in the sand a granite wall with no compromise that the waves will not affect.

To learn more please stop by our Employee Theft seminar on Thursday, January 12 at 10:30 a.m. in Building 1, Floor 10, and Seminar Room #1002

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