“My staff would never steal from me”; “I trust my employees, they’d never want to ruin my business”. Words uttered by many an employer the world over; many an employer who has gone on to regret not taking steps to consider staff sabotage and employee theft when planning their security strategies.

Employee theftIt can come as a nasty surprise to any employer to discover that an employee they trusted turned out to be stealing from them, or had set out to purposely try to damage or destroy their business.

From direct theft of cash or goods, to funnelling off confidential data to use in a new position or instigating a ransomware cyber-attack, there is a great deal for employers to be on their guard about.

What leads to employee theft?

Employee theft or sabotage often stems from bad feeling. It could be that the member of staff was overlooked for a promotion; they feel they are being underpaid or their authority has been undermined by a new manager. It may also be that they have been dismissed for reasons they deem unfair.

Opportunistic theft can also be a problem in the workplace. A lack of policies, supervision or of course inadequate security measures can place temptation in front of people, some of whom just cannot help but take advantage of the opening, especially if they are resentful for whatever reason, or if they are facing financial difficulties.

How to prevent employee theft?

There are a number of measures you can include within your workplace security strategy that will help you combat staff theft and sabotage.

CCTV

Video monitoring usually works best as a deterrent, although of course it does work to alert employers to dishonest behaviour, and recorded footage can be used as evidence for a dismissal and/or criminal prosecution.

Make certain though that you inform your workforce they are potentially being recorded, how they are being monitored and why; how the information obtained will be used and how their privacy rights will be protected. Preventing pilfering, malingering, deliberate damage and other misconduct are some of the perfectly legitimate and lawful reasons allowing employers to monitor staff using CCTV.

Providing you follow the relevant data protection laws that regulate how personal data can be collected and processed, and consideration is given to respecting employees’ rights to privacy under human rights legislation by ensuring CCTV monitoring is proportionate and not overly intrusive, you should stay on the right side of the law. In addition, employers must not act in a way that is likely to destroy or damage the mutual trust and confidence between them and their employees, as this could lead to a claim by an employee for constructive dismissal.

Access control

Controlling access to particular areas of your premises is a good way to keep track of who is allowed to go where, particularly useful if you store high value or sensitive goods such as medication.

Many access control systems incorporate an audit trail feature, so you can monitor who has been where and at what time. This makes it possible to pinpoint potential culprits following a theft.

Safes and time locks

Keeping cash and valuables in safes or vaults or protected by time locks is excellent practice, especially where internal thefts are suspected. Remove the temptation and you remove the problem.

Be certain to stick to a strict policy when it comes to sharing safe combinations or access codes though, and be sure to change them on a regular basis, especially following the departure of a member of staff.

Avoid lone working situations

When a member of staff is working alongside someone else and potentially being watched, they will be far less likely to steal anything. Always try to avoid situations where employees are left alone at work. It is also safer all round for people to work amongst colleagues.

In addition it is helpful to take steps to encourage anonymous tip-offs should a vigilant member of staff witness dishonest activity amongst colleagues.

Security Advice for Employers from Barry Bros Security

For tailored advice on your workplace security strategy, including recommendations on how to combat internal employee theft and sabotage, talk to Barry Bros Security. With decades of experience and a host of accreditations, you and your business will be in the safest of hands.