How to keep employees from stealing in a small business

Preventing stealing in a small business is a task you can't ignore as a bsuiness owner ... photo by CC user z0 on Flickr

As much as you’d like to trust the people you’ve brought into your retail store, shrinkage caused by employees is a real problem that can’t be ignored.

Indeed, studies on small business theft have revealed that this problem is a shockingly common one; to pretend it doesn’t exist only puts you and the long term viability of your business at serious risk.

Here’s how to keep your employees from stealing in a small business…

Run a background check on all new hires

Many thefts are motivated by an ongoing drug or gambling habit. By requiring all new employees to submit to a criminal background check and drug testing, you’ll be able to determine which ones might be most inclined to steal from you in order to fund an addiction.

Affix asset labels across the seams of unopened product boxes

Have a business that trades in small products such as smartphones, external hard drives, or other valuable items that are easy to conceal?

Secure bar code stickers from providers such as Data Label can help you prevent sticky-fingered employees from stealthily infiltrating boxes that are taped shut, as specially crafted models will reveal a “void” label if attempts are made to tamper with them.

Whenever possible, avoid having one employee open or close a store

Thefts from the till are mostly crimes of opportunity, rather than a coordinated operation organized by multiple persons.

If you have at least two employees working when you open and close your store, the chances that a dishonest employee will have to help themselves to some greenbacks at your expense will diminish considerably once there is another set of eyes on the floor with them at the start or end of the business day.

Keep a watchful eye on your workers via CCTV and through POS transaction tracking

Having another co-worker within close proximity may not be enough to deter the determined sociopath though, making the institution of video and POS system surveillance a necessary step for many small businesses.

By taking the time to ensure that you don’t miss any blind spots, you’ll be able to go back to any point during the work day to track the source of any missing merchandise.

Tracking electronic transactions on your POS system will help protect you just as well, as you’ll be able to flag any suspicious refunds and voids, especially after business hours.

Develop a genuine human relationship with all your hires

However, many of these thefts can be averted before they happen by getting to know your employees on a personal level.

Some might be going through unexpected financial hardship in their lives, and by recognizing the signs, you can help direct them towards resources that might negate their perceived need to steal from the register at work.