January 23, 2013

Are You Secure in the Employees You Hire?

published this at 2:32 pm

One of the biggest challenges that small business owners have is finding the right employees to help take their company to new heights.

In order to find the right pieces to the employee puzzle, it is important that those running businesses take an ample amount of time to research all prospective employees, especially in a day and age of a struggling economy, not to mention numerous cases of identity theft.

According to a number of corporate security experts, some 25 to 40 percent of all workers swipe stuff from business owners, with the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) estimating that employee theft involving cash, property, and merchandise may cost American companies upwards of $50 billion on an annual basis.

While some business owners are on top of the matter, others find themselves so busy that they can easily miss theft going on right under their noses.

So, how can you as a small business owner better prevent yourself and your company from being crime victims?

Among the things to look at:

* Screening applicants – First and foremost, make sure you do a thorough screening for each and every employee you consider hiring (see more below). While their qualifications for the job may be outstanding, they could have a skeleton or two in their closet that could end up costing you more than just time missed on the job. Even though many job application forms ask applicants if they have been in trouble with the law, don’t be naive to think that everyone fills them out truthfully. If your suspicions are raised about a candidate, follow through on them to make sure this individual will not cause you trouble should you hire them;

* Social media chatter – One of the ways to screen employees is to follow their chatter on social media. While most are probably smart enough not to brag of any past thefts involving employers, some folks just can’t help opening their mouths. If you see any such behavior on social media that indicates this applicant may be a troublemaker should you hire them, move on from them to the next person;

* Change in routine – In the event you hire someone and notice a change in their habits, don’t automatically dismiss it as no big deal. Most people have a schedule they follow on a daily basis. If someone has been coming in normal hours for several months, then does a 180 and comes in unusually early or stays later than normal, there is nothing wrong with questioning them on it. While the change may be to personal scheduling needs, it could also be to access items at work such as financial records, computer passwords etc. that could be a precursor to theft;

* Financial freedom –  Depending on the size of your small business, you may have one or more people handling finances, i.e. who cuts the checks, who has access to the company credit card to make office purchases or travel to meet clients. Make sure the individual or individuals in charge of such tasks are trustworthy enough to have in this position. It never hurts for you or someone outside the finance department to check the books from time to time, looking for any inaccuracies or large withdrawals during the year;

* Secure your business – Even though you may be watching every dollar you spend, having a security system in place at work is not only to keep the bad guys out, but also to make sure you don’t have any thieves right there in the office. Having an employee take a pen or two from the office supply home with them is a far cry from taking money out of the payroll box or making out checks to themselves for supposed “work-related” expenses. Whether you go with obvious security like cameras on the ceiling or closed-circuit cameras, locked boxes for money and other financial items, or having a log that all employees must sign in and out with to remove any items from the office, have a secure plan in place;

* Let them be warned – Lastly, make sure EVERYONE under your employ knows there are consequences if they are caught stealing from the business. With the economy still struggling to gain sound footing, it is not uncommon to pick up the newspaper or read online of another employee arrested and charged with employer theft. If you don’t point out the severe consequences that can happen with such decisions, you set yourself and your business up for trouble.

Employee theft happens more often than you may realize, so don’t be the next victim.

Photo credit: martinpi.com

About the Author: With 23 years of experience as a writer, Dave Thomas covers a wide
array of financial topics, including finding the right home security system.

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