I was surprised by the advice that was offered to small businesses in a recent Wall Street Journal article regarding the best ways to defend against employee theft.  The recommendations; business owners should review employee submitted reimbursement records, make it difficult for outsiders to know when the owner will not be on premises, and to pay attention to employees who have shared that they have had money problems in the past yet appear to be doing okay now.

Although I wouldn’t argue against any prudent steps to protect against employee theft I do challenge the suggestion that they are “The three best ways” as stated in the articles headline. Reviewing reimbursement forms is simply common sense. Preventing employees from knowing when you will be on or off site is impractical.  Small business owners are not omnipresent; they couldn’t possibly execute a strategy that depended on knowing the financial details of each employee’s personal lives. Yes, an employee with a minimum salary showing up in a Ferrari should trigger a question or two, but I doubt most situations are that flagrant.

I read a whitepaper recently which addressed employee fraud. Revelations were startling. On average, frauds go unnoticed for 18 months. The overwhelming majority of those prosecuted and convicted of employee fraud had no previous criminal record or items of concern in their background checks.

Businesses of any size should know that validated tools are available that measure a persons attitudes towards theft in the workplace, and they are very inexpensive. It makes much more sense to fully understand a candidate’s attitude towards theft – including property, data, and time, and to avoid bringing someone onboard that has values inconsistent with those of your business.

Their article can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/yzmp75l

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