Human nature is human nature. People may be inherently good, but we are in a fast-paced era with more challenges than previous generations. These days, single-income households are almost unheard of. People struggle for survival. Within a survival mindset, particularly in settings where no one is watching, employees may succumb to the urge to steal. This can mean employees taking money from the till or extend into them helping themselves to items on the store’s shelves.
It’s a classic challenge faced by grocery, c-store, liquor and tobacco store owners. At first, you may not notice an unexplained drop in profits. Inventory and sales aren’t always reconciling but discrepancies slip through unnoticed until the theft becomes more blatantly evident.
Investigating and verifying theft means carefully scrutinizing your store’s inventory and sales, surveillance footage, and cashier shift activity. Reconciling this can be daunting, but having an organized management system definitely helps.
When it comes to theft, time is critical. Every day an employee steals is lost revenue and can harm the manager-employee relationship. If you have multiple employees, speak with each one privately. Let them know you’re concerned about theft.
Prevention is the best way to avoid employee theft. Setting up the store with high-tech monitoring equipment and disclosing to employees that they are being watched can greatly reduce the risks. Modern point of sale systems can make it simpler to manage inventory and stock levels, consolidate sales data, and track cashier shifts. Some offer a remote access app and web portal for the retailer to log in for an around-the-clock view of their back office, how much cash is in the drawer, how many/which products are on the shelves and which cashier is on shift. Alerts notify the owner when inventory is low. Accurately tracking sales and inventory can help prevent sticky fingers by letting you know the cash in the drawer is not adding up and products sold are not matching missing inventory.
In the wake of recent news of violence in small, independent retail stores, and in efforts to prevent theft, many store owners are opting for surveillance cameras. These camera systems can significantly help deter not just customer theft, but also dishonest employee behavior while on shift. Surveillance footage can be reviewed and provided for law enforcement. It’s important to monitor your data and employees carefully, with full disclosure, to help keep your staff ethical. Employees should be shown that there’s technology in the store to keep tabs on their activity with increased accountability.
But there is also a human side to consider as an employer. Managing employees effectively is not just about the mechanics of running a business. It’s about noticing employee pain points. Some of the most common complaints of employees that link to higher theft incidences are being treated poorly and feeling underpaid.
Attention to details like surveillance and regularly checking on employees to make sure they feel they are properly treated and compensated will go a long way in preventing theft in the workplace.