10 Practical Ways to Prevent Dishonesty in the Workplace

While daring robberies hog the headlines, rarely does a business close due to their guns. More often than not, the culprits are within the organization itself. There are an infinite number of ways to commit theft and so is the number of ways to try to catch the thieves. Far better, though, is to try preventing the crime before it is committed. The measures discussed below, although they may catch a rogue, they are designed more to discourage theft from happening.
1. Know the yield of all the consumables. I used to own a publishing company for nine years. Since I was the one costing the printing jobs, I knew how much a certain supply would last. I knew how many reams of paper would be needed to print a certain number of books, and also how many kilos of ink will be consumed per ream. You must try to know or at least get a realistic approximation of what should be the normal consumption of supplies in whatever business you are in. If you have that skill, it will be a very strong deterrent to theft, as everyone knows that you cannot be easily fooled.
2. Know the time needed for a task’s completion. Theft not only applies to material things but also to loss of productive time that the company has paid for. If you know the proper time for a task’s completion, you can see if an employee is slacking.
3. Have regular and random inspections. Walk around your place and observe if everything is in order. See if there is anything missing or not where it should be. Check if the cash tallies with the balance on the cash register or POS. See if inventory count matches the one in the computer. This might seem old fashioned after all there are CCTV’s and modern control systems to rely on. However, there is a big psychological difference in your actual presence. You will still see more than any CCTV and your staff will be on their toes.
4. Know your personnel. By getting to know better your people, you will be getting priceless data to use in managing your business. By knowing who are friends with whom you can take note to avoid one of them serving as the checker of the other. Maybe, there is someone living beyond her/his means or is in the company of questionable characters. Sometimes, you get tips on the true personality of their colleagues. You can only gain this information by personal interaction.
5. Mandate drug checks before and during employment. Drug addiction is more rampant than you think. The 2008 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes report says that the Philippines ranked first in Southeast Asia in terms of the number of drug users and abusers. The report said there were 2.7 million illegal drug users in the country in 2004. Since drug addiction is expensive, there is a very high rate of theft among illegal drug users.
6. Do not trust a person too much. There must be a system of checks and balances and no one must be absolutely exempt. Think how much you can afford to lose in case your trusted person goes bad and from this, set the limits of her/his authority. Another disadvantage of trusting a person too much is that whistle blowers are discouraged from reporting wrongdoing because they fear they will not be fairly heard.
7. Utilize modern technology. Do not be left behind, a wide array of gadgets are now both affordable and indispensible: CCTV for visual monitoring, POS for cash and inventory control, Biometrics to prevent payroll time theft, tracking devices in vehicles to prevent personal trips and cell phones with tracking features to locate your field personnel. These are just some of the modern tools that help prevent both material and time theft.
8. Be a role model. It is hard to convince your subordinates to be honest if you yourself are not. After all, they are just following your example.
9. Do the purchasing. For most small and medium scale businesses, purchasing is a critical function. It is the hardest to police because collusion between suppliers and employees do not leave a paper trail. It is extremely difficult to prove and so it is best if you do it yourself. Not only will you get better prices and quality but you will also learn a lot of information regarding the industry from your conversations with the vendors.
10. Make the rules and consequences clear. The rules and penalties must be in writing and properly received by all employees. It must be written in manner that can be understood by everyone. Implement the rules, and make it clear that there will be consequences if there will be violations committed.
Having a strong deterrence is much better than investigating a theft after it has occurred. For the majority of cases the precautions above will suffice. Although pilferage will still occur, at least, strive to keep it at the minimum level. As in most things, consistency of effort is what is important for success and if your methods are practical then the chances are high that it will be sustained.

*Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holder.