A recent survey commissioned by ADT Security has shown that almost half of small business employees admit they or their colleagues provide discounts or freebies to their friends and family. This survey also found that the younger the employee, the more likely they were to engage in these practices, with 49% of Generation Y and 45% of Generation X admitting to it compared to just 30% of Baby Boomers.
Furthermore, women (42%) were just as likely as men (44%) to provide discounts or freebies to friends or family, while small business owners would be wise to keep a closer eye on full-time employees (46%) than part-timers (36%).
While it has often been reported that Australian businesses experience unusually high levels of employee theft and fraud compared to the international average, these worrying new findings come at a time when small business bottom lines are already under attack from sluggish sales, weaker margins, rising costs of finance and rent, and increased competition for the consumer dollar.
In brighter news, only 18% of surveyed employees thought it was easier to get away with theft or fraud in a smaller business, perhaps indicating that the closer relationships formed in small business play a role.
However, small business owners also identified that they often lacked the higher tech employee theft security solutions used by larger corporations to prevent crime, leaving them more vulnerable to employee theft.
Managing Director of ADT Security, Mark Norton, says these survey results show that small businesses have some natural advantages over employee theft, especially where the company is small enough for the owners to know each employee and oversee every contract or payment. He adds however that the financial losses due to employee theft and fraud can be devastating, with research suggesting 43% of small business owners estimate their losses from crime to total more than AU$10,000 a year.
“Business owners can help minimise the risk of employee theft by performing regular and spot audits of stock and finances, rotating staff through different jobs, creating a positive workplace environment and showing they value their employees," says Norton.
“We would also recommend they implement a comprehensive security plan which identifies security threats and trouble-shoots potential weaknesses, as well as installing physical security measures such as intruder alarms and monitored video surveillance.
ADT Security are confident that electronic security systems are effective at both deterring theft and catching out employees who act dishonestly, and as such the company provides a number of affordable employee theft security solutions including ADT Vision, a pay-by-the-month video surveillance solution designed specifically with the needs and concerns of small businesses in mind.