As your personal business grows, hiring new employees becomes inevitable. But with the promise of new blood in your organization also come concerns. For instance, what if you hire someone who ends up stealing from you? There are several steps you can take to prevent employee theft.
You can best begin preventing employee theft with your hiring process. Before you hire a new recruit, make sure to check his or her references. Look for applicants’ general moral character rather than bluntly asking if they stole anything at their last job.
You can also get a feel for their personality and morals in the interview process. You’ll get better results by asking more generic questions that will reveal interviewees’ personalities rather than asking them how they feel about stealing from the office. If they would steal, isn’t it possible that they would lie about it?
Instead, provide them with a morally ambiguous open-ended scenario. If you ask them what they would do if they caught a fellow employee plagiarizing, you’re not really asking about stealing, but you’re getting a feel for their honesty and how quickly they would be willing to report on the wrongdoings of a colleague. It is also possible to administer personality tests, either paper, and pencil or online, that will give you a read on candidates’ views on stealing and other issues of honesty.
The fact that you’re a small business is actually to your advantage when it comes to theft. It can be much easier to steal from an impersonal company than from the shop owner who has coffee with you every morning. At the same time, be sensitive to your worker’s needs and try to keep employees happy so they don’t feel that you owe them. Discontent can quickly lead to feeling disconnected from the business. When employees feel invested in their place of work, they’re less likely to want to do anything that would detract from it.
Keep good records so that any problems will quickly become apparent. If your accounting books are a mess, you’ll never be sure if you’re an employee who stole $20 from petty cash or if you just forgot to write down your withdrawal the last time you had to run to the post office.
You should also stay involved in all aspects of your business, even as you expand. That’s not to say that you should micromanage your employees, but you should stay aware of what’s going on. For instance, if an employee has sole control of ordering supplies, and you never once check their invoices, you may be paving the way for them to steal supplies or to overstate the costs and keep the extra money for themselves.
Don’t be overly suspicious, but be careful. Use locks for any cash on hand or expensive equipment and keep the key to yourself. Wait before you give a new employee access to sensitive information like account numbers or passwords. Install alarms to be used after hours.
Overall, the most important thing you can do is to trust your instincts. They’ve taken you this far to build a successful business. If something doesn’t seem right, investigate, and keep careful watch so that you can avoid unpleasant surprises.