Teamwork is founded in communications
25 November 2014

What’s the real cost of theft?

It’s more than the cash missing from the drawer! 

Unfortunately, one person stealing often means others are doing it as well. Equally devastating is the long-term impact on your staff that, willingly or not, becomes part of a “theft culture.” Organizations that allow theft to continue and make little effort to prevent it, silently signal to their staff that this behavior is allowed. Other bad behaviors quickly become the norm, and morale sinks with it.

It’s a fact, in a high performing organization, staff is far less likely to tolerate a co-worker who is stealing or engaged in behaviors not condoned by the culture. They understand how one individual’s actions can affect the team’s performance overall and know how to raise the flag to their managers. In a non-performing culture, an employee who is aware of theft may not be confident in raising the issue, may fear recrimination from fellow employees, or simply decide to look the other way.  Not only does it mean more theft is likely to occur, but valuable employees will leave.

What’s Important to Prevent a “Theft Culture”:

Clearly communicated expectations and transparency. 
Communications and established support processes are key to a high performing culture, whether it’s dealing with theft or other issues of non-performance. Employees need to understand what is expected of them and what behaviors are not tolerated.  If they witness theft, they need a supportive process in place to help them do the right thing without fear of recrimination. Managers in particular, should be aware of how their reaction to reports of theft will be received by their teams, and maintain a levelheaded, compassionate approach to fair investigation and a proper response.

Consider a third-party shopping program.  To reinforce expectations, many organizations have mystery shopping programs in place to provide a neutral, third-party assessment of service and hospitality as well as service as an alert to theft. Managers walk through mystery shop report results as part of weekly pre-shift meetings to objectively discuss points of performance. This transparency creates an environment of openness and fairness, and increases awareness of how shopping reports are used in assessing performance and monitoring illegal activities.  In the unfortunate circumstance where theft is discovered, management can take steps to prevent it from happening in the future, which signals, not so silently, that theft is not tolerated.

In addition to ongoing scheduled audits, Invision receives frequent requests, based on suspicion of theft by owners or managers.  These audits are third party, independent audits of bartenders’ ability to follow the establishment’s compliance protocols.  Every report is a fact-based indicator of behavior that indicates theft may be occurring.  Audit results can be mapped to actual POS audit trails and relevant surveillance records, to determine more facts about each suspect transaction.

Did you know that statistics show that 95% of all businesses experience employee theft and that 75% of employees steal from the workplace at least once? If it’s only one person consistently stealing $100 per shift, over the course of a month, an employee working 5 shifts weekly, could signify $2,000 in lost revenues.

Sadly, Invision Consulting has found in its experience, that it’s often more than one person engaged in theft and that owners will wait several months before investigating the issue.