Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Stop Theft In Your Business With Good Systems.

It’s common for business owners to underestimate the potential for theft by their own staff.  The reality is that the loss to a business though employee theft can be a real drain on profits and can undermine the stability of the business. Where this happens, the whole culture within the business can suffer.

As this recent article shows where 43% of small business employees admit giving freebies or discounts to friends and family. Some won't even see that when they do this, it is theft. It's up to you to teach them the values that apply in your business. And some will be knowingly stealing whatever they can get their hands on. 

How To Spot It

Those who are stealing from the business can be very keen to keep their activities hidden and be attached to keeping the status quo with regard to their duties and function.  They won't like change and will actively discourage good systems from being put in place that help you manage effectively.

 Mix It Up

Changing the employees' functions from time to time can help with this but for many business that is difficult because often the roles are not well described and it can happen that management is less than sure what an employee even does in their role!

Where staff are stuck on keeping things as they are, that’s a bad sign and to prevent that happening, the business needs good systems, well-defined roles and descriptions for the position – not the person in the role.  People can be moved and everyone be very clear on what they have to do and how they do it, when this is well documented.

That process for managing roles and responsibilities also makes for easy performance management, recruiting and can ensure that the knowledge in the business is shared and kept, even when key staff leave or are reassigned to new responsibilities.

In your business now, make sure you have put in place:

  •  A clearly identified and written chain of command so people know who they report to and who they are supposed to be supervising. 
  • Written position descriptions for each role in the business
  • Tasks written down in full for each of the positions. 
  • Induction training for new employees into the business so they know from Day 1 where everything is and what's expected of them, and the culture and values of the business.
  • Performance management system to monitor progress, catch any training gaps and fix problems at the time they show up and catch your people doing good work.
 Lead From The Front. 

Your role as a leader in your business means that this is one of your responsibilities to ensure good governance and effective practices are in place. This raises productivity, makes for more engaged workers and lets you keep good control over your business affairs.

Someone from outside the business can often help you identify issues like these and more that can keep you on track and out of the rut that comes from having no systems in place.


Policies and good management alone won't guarantee there is no theft from a business. But you are guaranteed that without those procedures and good culture in the workplace, you are actively encouraging every kind of bad activity to flourish.

Your business loses money when you have theft but also when you have high staff turnover, low standards of training in the business and no good systems to manage the people and assets in the business. When you improve these areas, it is like money in the bank.

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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Good Records Management Is Good Business

Government departments can be a good source of information for business on how to stay compliant with the legal obligations in the local jurisdiction and in this example below, it shows clearly the kinds of documentation that needs to be maintained and managed well. These documents are essential to your businesses well being and need to be managed effectively. Some will need updating at the right time and this can easily be overlooked. 

I was at a networking luncheon recently and heard about a great example of where the right documentation being overlooked can result in ongoing issues that can threaten the complete operations of the business – sometimes without the owner being aware that it even happened. In this case the real estate license had expired and not renewed as it was due. To cover this, the administrations person had ‘doctored’ a certificate with the new dates on it to cover the fact that it was not done in time and of course once this had happened the first time, then they maintained this the following year. When this came to light, the real estate agent had effectively been without a current license for a period of 3 years.  This could have been catastrophic to that business. 

Cases abound where employees either by intention or by lack of understanding can cause problems for a business. Good management of the records in the business should keep a check and good oversight to the operations and administrative issues in a business. Compliance can be a trial for business to manage, but as well as keeping the business ‘legal’ – you can use the need for good record keeping to your advantage too. 
Trying to manage this with files and bits of paper is a nightmare – and puts business at risk of things being missed, potential fines and court actions and more. But this need to be compliant is a perfect excuse to put in place systems to manage your information in a streamlined way,  one that covers your obligations, but also lets you manage more effectively, reduce risk and create a relaxed environment where employees are able to know exactly what they are expected to do, alerts to remind them when things are due so they don’t need to rely on memory or bits of paper, and can be confident that they are clear on what is expected of them and how to do their work successfully.

How do you manage your records now? 

Records Management
Record keeping isn't just good business practice, it's a legal requirement. You are required by the Australian Taxation Office to keep business records for a minimum of five years, in plain English and in a way the tax office can access if they need it.
Business record keeping
In addition to your ATO financial records requirements other government departments require you to keep records relating to your business and employees. 
When setting up your record keeping system you should also file records such as: 
  • contracts, insurance agreements and other legal documents
  • your lease if you're renting 
  • licences and permits
  • employee records including time sheets, copies of pay slips etc
  • safety records e.g. risk assessment for occupational health and safety 
  • any other records which are 'business activity' specific and required by law for the operation of your business e.g. for a cafĂ© your food safety plan
Tip: Write down the method you use for filing so if someone has to do it for you they know how to. As your business grows, this is a job you could give someone else to do. 

Adobe PDF Document

A checklist of business records and how long to keep them, including financial and employment records.

Like to discuss your business? Lindy Asimus Design Business Engineering Get Help For Your Business Download your free 24 Page Action Plan Marketing Workbook! Subscribe to Actionbites Blog