Words like “extortion” and “embezzlement” conjure images of white collar men pocketing money from large corporations, but small businesses are not immune to these crimes. In fact, The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners has reported that nearly a third of internal fraud cases occur at businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The FBI recently disclosed that American businesses and individuals collectively lost $156 billion due to property crimes in 2011. American businesses lose 5 percent of their total revenues to embezzlement each year with an average loss of $150,000. Such a loss is negligible to a multimillion dollar conglomerate, but it can devastate a small business beyond repair.
Most employers know from years of sociological research that employees are just as likely to commit thievery as patrons. No business owner, however, likes to think that his or her staff would dare violate their trust. Some compassionate entrepreneurs assume that the key to keeping employees honest is to treat them well and create a positive work culture, and installing cameras or other office security systems would disturb an assumption of mutual trust. While such owners are correct in believing that fostering a healthy work environment is the best safeguard against internal theft, they do not consider that their financial stake in the business is much higher than their employees’. It only takes one bad apple to ruin the bunch, and an inexplicable disappearance of revenue could turn your harmonious office into a hostile prison cell. Here are some precautions that you can take to maintain your staff’s camaraderie and safety:
Installing security cameras does not mean that you do not trust your employees; cameras can protect your honest employees. If funds mysteriously went missing, think about how detrimental it would be to you and your workplace. Not knowing the culprit could lead you to distrust everyone and potentially pit employees against one another. Security cameras take the issue outside the realm of “he said, she said” and keep it grounded in the facts. Cameras can also protect employees from burglars, who are responsible for $1.4 billion in total business losses each year. Just having cameras on the premise is often enough to deter would-be thieves.
Electronic Access Control
One of the biggest security issues business owners lose sleep over is keeping up with who has access to their establishment. Changing the locks every time you part ways with a disgruntled employee can get time consuming and expensive. An electronic key system can alleviate this problem. When installing such business security systems, each employee is given a unique key that can be deactivated at anytime. If there are places in your office that you want to grant access to some employees but not others, there is no need to install separate locks because individual electronic keys can be access control programmed to open only specific doors. Many of these systems keep a running log of when and where each key is used, so you can always rest assured that no one is meddling where they should not be.
All business owners are vulnerable to theft. If you own a business, you have likely spent thousands of dollars and invaluable time making your enterprise a success. Protecting your investment does not mean that you are turning into Big Brother; it means that you value your family’s livelihood. You owe it to yourself and those who depend on you, which includes your employees, to guard your source of income. Let your staff know that the security measures you take are not an affront to their trustworthiness but rather an investment in everyone’s safety.