Ways to deal with employee theft
By Paul Kariuki | December 8th 2021
Recently, a renowned political blogger and city lawyer posted on social media how a lady was fired from a Nairobi based company where she had worked for several years.
According to the post, the lady’s crime was “borrowing” the burner of the company’s gas cooker after the delivery guy messed with hers when fixing it on the gas cylinder he delivered to her house.
The lady’s intention was to use the company’s burner and return it the next morning before anyone noticed it was missing. As fate would have it, her son fell ill and she had to rush him to hospital. To complicate matters, the company employees noticed the missing burner and a review of the CCTV footage disclosed who the culprit was.
She was fired from the job empty-handed – and the employer wouldn’t hear her side of the story accusing her of “theft”.
Similarly, businesses lose through employee theft which can take long to be detected as it is at most times done in stealthy ways.
Here are a few ways your businesses can deal with employee theft.
As in the case of the woman highlighted above, installing cameras at your business premises pays. Chances are that employees may not know what particular cameras are filming or documenting and they may make that costly blunder of stealing an item in the belief that they can get away with it undetected.
Have proper bookkeeping practice
Study keenly the profit and loss statement. It should be updated every month. Working without knowing how the business is doing on a monthly basis is similar to operating blindly. Take the instance where you’ve invested in a restaurant business. It is essential to keep statements on a daily basis in relation to food cost versus revenue. Sample where 30 per cent of daily operation costs go to food item purchases and preparation (also factoring in spoilage), then the costs mysteriously go up by a marginal percentage as revenues dip. This is an indication something is wrong. That Sh5 or Sh10 not adding up will prove costly if the situation is not checked.
Ensure that nothing, say an order or item, leaves the counter or the store without a ticket indicating price per order ticketed. Workers can take advantage to steal from you where a customer is overcharged for an order or an item and the difference pocketed. And where things are paid through cash registers, it should be the responsibility of each employee to be in charge of their cash in keying in each sale made so every sale can be easily tracked to an individual employee.
Check your auditing system
By constantly auditing and checking in with the systems to see if everything is as it should be. The system to manage fraud may be in place but you may be surprised to discover the checkpoints and different points are not being implemented in the correct manner. Even if you don’t have fraud-detecting system and everything is well systemised, an employee can still find a loophole in the system and steal from you.
Factor in your employees sentiments
You may have that employee who is disgruntled. He’s the kind that believes he’s entitled to a good pay package going by the nature of his work. He could be the reason behind the increased business revenues as in pushing up sales. You don’t listen to his sentiments and there could be a reason behind this. He may be the type that arrives late or starts work late. You don’t give him the reason why he may not be entitled to a pay review and your first reaction is to serve him with a warning letter or issue some threats. Before you know it, he may have figured a way to steal from you and before you discover this, he has left your company.
Check your trust level with your employee
When you serve any of your employees with two warning letters, you may have tacitly sent a message that they may interpret wrongly. Some will see that you don’t trust them even if the warning accrued from a mistake that would have been resolved through verbal communication. The warned employee’s trust level may dip, and it makes for a case scenario if that employee is the one who handles a lot of money in your business.
Random spot checks
If you have employees working in shifts, it would pay to check on those whose shifts are ending. Check their pockets and their cash register records before they sign out for the day. Chances are you may stumble on a surprise and instituting some work policies – like everyone declaring what they have with them at the front desk when clocking in.
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