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Business law: How to prevent employee embezzlement

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2021 | Employment Law |

Embezzlement and employee theft are serious concerns. It’s been well-documented that people steal from their workplaces all the time. Some of it is minor — taking home a tablet or using a work phone as a personal phone. Other issues are major, such as accountants covering up tens of thousands of dollars in theft.

Either way, you want to prevent it. How can you do so?

Practice close supervision

This can feel tedious. You don’t want to have to watch every employee around the clock. But it really does help tremendously. Even just having multiple employees in the same spaces at all times — so that they always feel like the other person is watching — can make theft less likely.

Get to know them and look for changes

When you know people on a bit deeper level, you can spot changes and warning signs. For instance, alcohol abuse is a red flag. If an employee begins drinking more often, are they going to steal to pay for it?

Run audits without announcing them

If employees know when you’re going to check their paperwork, they’ll attempt to find ways around it and they’ll prepare to hide theft. If your audits are unannounced, you can actually prevent theft because they never know when you’re going to check.

Document everything

Keep receipts. Document purchases. Let employees know that you carefully watch what happens to every cent. If they feel like you’re paying close attention, they won’t find any opportunities for theft. This can also help you catch them if they try it anyway, but it will ideally prevent it.

Treat your employees well

In one study, 13% of those who admitted to theft said that they did it because their boss was rude. You can technically treat your employees any way that you want, but it’s clear that your relationship to them directly impacts the odds of theft. Treating them well is an easy way to take away the motivation for theft.

Explore your options when embezzlement happens

Despite all of this, embezzlement can still happen. If it does, you must know what legal options you have at your disposal.