employee theft

95% of all businesses have experienced employee theft at some point or another, so when the odd thing goes missing, that’s just a normal day at the office, right? It might not seem like a big deal when a pile of Post-Its or some break room supplies drift away, but small-scale theft can be a canary-esque warning that something far worse is brewing. If workplace culture turns sour and a breeding ground for theft emerges, your losses might remain petty—but they might extend into embezzlement or corporate data theft, so consider those small losses a cue to sit up and get your eye on the ball.

Corporate theft is a spectrum that spans everything between pocketing a pen from the supply closet, through to some of the most nefarious forms of white collar crime. Leadership uncovering a misdeed at any point on this sliding scale can easily dismiss it as an isolated incident, but will theft truly be nipped in the bud through a single disciplinary action or termination? More importantly, what else could these incidences be warning of?

When disappearances or losses are repeating like an unwelcome re-run that should have long been off the air, there’s a good chance that the problem has entered into pervasive territory and is already denting your bottom line. In these moment, turning to a trusted corporate investigations bureau skilled in addressing these kinds of issues is likely going to be your best defense against accelerating future losses.

What Makes Employees Decide to Steal in the First Place?

An employee on the take may simply be a lone bad apple, but it’s worth stepping back and looking at the larger picture after concluding your corporate internal investigations. Perhaps surprisingly, the most common motivations driving corporate theft don’t include the desire to be a criminal mastermind!

Instead, employees might feel as if their employer has wronged them, or that they are not adequately appreciated or compensated for their efforts. They might imagine that their crime is victimless either because it is small, or because the business is insured against theft. Finally, they might have found themselves within an environment where nobody is held accountable for their actions—letting them know not only that they wont be either, but that taking a moral stance within a toxic workplace might just be a waste of their time.

Each and every one of these drivers for employee theft can be traced back to an erosion of corporate culture. When corporate culture is strong, employees feel valued and find satisfaction in succeeding. This forges positive feedback that propels the whole team forwards. So, how can you tell if your corporate culture is in trouble?

What Does Healthy Corporate Culture Look Like?

A good place to start is in understanding what prospering corporate culture is supposed to look like. Healthy workplace culture can be thought of as a cycle—a beloved and welcome rerun in this case—that begins with happy employees. When your team at large are thriving, they will be more engaged, creative, and productive in their daily working lives. Of course, this bountiful reality is the perfect incentive for leadership to continue to invest in their team, delivering rewards such as pay-raises, opportunities, benefits, and praise.

These indicators tell employees that their work is being valued, which boosts their happiness further—and so the cycle continues. Not only can this positive feedback loop allow a business to storm through successive growth, but it can also create a culture of resilience and trust that allows riding out the storm whenever an economic downturn or industry challenge creates bumps in the road. If your efforts to kick-start this kind of triumphant working environment have fallen flat to date, then a corporate culture audit is going to bring whatever is letting you down into focus.

The Risk of Letting Employee Theft and Poor Corporate Culture Slide

If corporate theft is the canary warning of a corporate culture crisis in the coal mine, then what can go wrong if you don’t take action? Sadly, the manifestation of these kinds of pervasive problems can extend far beyond having to buy your stationary twice over. Undervalued employees will not only underperform themselves, but they will inevitably contribute negatively to the engagement of others.

Time theft might be the next impact, as breaks become extended or multiplied, followed potentially by FMLA or compensation fraud. Fundamentally, reoccurring instances of employee theft aren’t something you can afford to ignore. When we consider that 33% of corporate bankruptcies in the US are linked to employee theft, it becomes clear that proactivity is the best approach to keeping corporate theft down, and corporate culture riding high.

How a Corporate Culture Audit Can Help

Trying to assess corporate culture problems from within can be a little bit like trying to see the wood for the trees. Those who are engaging in employee theft will likely be protecting their actions from your eyes, and other employees may feel conflicted by a sense of loyalty to their co-workers, or a shared sense of frustration with their employer. Rather than spiraling through increasingly heavy-handed corporate internal investigations, bringing in expert private investigators to conduct a corporate culture audit can be the most effective way to break a bad pattern of employee theft, misconduct, and underperformance.  

A corporate culture audit can be seen as the equivalent to going to the doctors for a thorough checkup. All areas are evaluated for signs of illness, so that causes can be addressed—and not just symptoms. When corporate investigators carry out an objective and independent audit on your behalf, their comprehensive approach will take in everything from internal operations to your hiring processes, and from spanner-in-the-works employees through to leadership unknowingly taking a damaging approach. Not only will they provide an in-depth report on the current corporate culture landscape of your business, but also a clear road map for resolution and ultimately prosperity.
If you think your business or organization would benefit from a corporate culture audit, get in touch with Lauth Investigations International today. Going far beyond assisting in corporate theft cases, for over 30 years Lauth has been providing corporations with proactive solutions to stimulate real success. We are always here to answer your questions and provide a free no-obligation quote.