Theft in the workplace.

Author:Yelton, B. Jay, III.
Position::Human Resource

Here are some steps you can take to reduce theft in the workplace:

Check backgrounds--Will a deceptive applicant be an honest employee? The best indicator of future performance is past behavior, so be sure to investigate applicants' employment and criminal histories. Criminal history checks are now easy and inexpensive, thanks to a number of private companies offering the service. (Check out for starters.) Although not mandated, it's a good idea to request permission to conduct these inquiries. Don't hire an applicant who refuses. And don't rely on a resume to supply all the details you're looking for--it's too easy' to hide or falsify information. Instead, beef up your job application form. It should ask applicants for each past job, the dates they held those jobs and the reason for leaving; and authorize prior employers to share information. Compare the resume and job application to check for conflicts. Then, use the job interview as an opportunity to ask about unexplained gaps in employment or other inconsistencies.

Reduce your risk--How carefully does your company handle cash receipts, disbursements, bank accounts, account receivables and payables, travel expense reimbursements, inventory, investments and purchasing? Not sure? You should be. You might consider an "organizational theft and fraud risk assessment" that can identify your company's vulnerabilities and suggest ways to reduce or eliminate risk. Among the options: lock boxes, limited access to computerized accounts receivables, revised check-signing procedures, approved vendor lists and regularly scheduled reconciliations. In addition, establish policies for monitoring vulnerabilities in the future. Although you may have a longstanding relationship with an accounting firm, consider having an independent accountant conduct reviews of your travel expense reimbursements, petty cash, bank accounts and other areas of risk on a sporadic and unpredictable basis.

Respond firmly to an incident--When an employee theft is discovered, some employers are tempted to downplay the...

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