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.
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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