Employee Theft: A Symptom of Poor Corporate Culture

Regardless of the industry, all businesses should be vigilant with regards to employee theft. Employee theft can come in all shapes and sizes, from an administrative assistant pocketing some extra Post-Its to hardcore embezzlement on behalf of leadership. It can be easy to dismiss repeated instances of employee theft as isolated incidents, implementing disciplinary action or termination, and moving on with the work week. However, many executives and managers may not realize that repeated instances of employee theft could be indicative of a much larger problem in their corporation or organization.

From a position of leadership, it’s easy to dismiss a single instance of employee theft; the employee is the one who made a choice to steal from their company or organization, and that employee was wrong for doing so. Discipline or termination typically follows, and leadership walks away feeling confident that they’ve removed a bad apple from their barrel. However, pervasive issues with employee theft are symptomatic of a systematic problem within the business or organization that go beyond a single employee’s bad judgement.

Why do employees steal?

The three most common reasons employees steal are not very difficult to understand.

  • employees feel as though their employer has wronged them, or their compensation is inadequate.
  • employees believe that employers insure such losses—therefore it is a victimless crime.
  • employees know they will not be held accountable if they are caught

All of these reasons may characterize the employee as “disgruntled,” a term with a cultural context that often absolves the employer of any misconduct. When a corporation or organization has repeated instances of multiple employees committing theft, it’s a sign that the corporate culture of the workplace is less than healthy. A single employee pilfering staplers is not symptomatic of unhealthy corporate culture, but 5 employees pilfering staplers is a sign that employees do not feel valued, and therefore do not respect their employer.

The cycle of healthy corporate culture always begins with happy employees, because when employees are happy, they are more engaged, and contribute positively to the productivity of the organization. This pleases leadership, which incentivizes them to make decisions that raise morale, such as rewarding success with pay-raises, benefits, and thoughtful, constructive collaboration. The cycle begins anew with happy employees. Poor corporate culture means that undervalued employees will contribute negatively to workplace productivity. One of the ways poor corporate culture manifests is through employee theft—and it’s not just about profits or staplers. When employees are disengaged from their duties, they’re more likely to take extraneous breaks, or taking longer breaks than permitted, which is theft of company time. This often comes from a rationalized perspective, in which the employee does not feel their own time is valued within the organization, and therefore will place the same perceived value on company time.

Whatever the type of theft, repeated instances of employee theft cannot be ignored. It may be a sign that your business or organization needs a corporate culture audit. A corporate culture audit is like a check-up—when you go into the doctor for a standard check-up, they evaluate all of your major bodily functions for signs of disease or deterioration, and a corporate culture audit is no different. When investigators conduct a corporate culture audit, they evaluate all of your business’s internal operations, hiring processes, and principle employees for roadblocks that hinder productivity and contribute to poor corporate culture. The identification of these pervasive issues will lead to investigators providing leadership with expert recommendations to dislodge the blockage, allowing the cycle of corporate culture to right itself through cause and effect.

If you think your business or organization needs a corporate culture audit, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our Corporate Culture Audit program. For over 30 years, Lauth has been providing corporations with solutions to stimulate their business. In pursuit of truth, call 317-951-1100, or visit us online at www.lauthinvestigations.com.

8 Signs You Need a Corporate Culture Audit

8 Signs You Need a Corporate Culture Audit

8 Signs You Need a Corporate Culture Audit

How do you know when your business or organization needs a corporate culture audit? The fact of the matter is that you don’t have to be an educated risk assessment investigator to identify the signs. Many employees can trace their workplace woes back to an internal process or another employee they do not like. Sometimes it’s difficult to discern whether your organization needs a corporate culture audit. Here are 8 of the most prevalent signs that leadership should watch out for when it comes to declining corporate culture.

8. High-Pressure Environment

There is a plethora of high-pressure jobs that can create tension in the workplace, like media conglomerates, financial firms, and law offices. When stress is part of the job, many employers go the extra mile to ensure that their employees can have good work-life balance, such as paid-time-off, vacations, and comprehensive benefits. In high-pressure jobs where these things are not available to employees, the workforce regularly experiences burnout and lack of engagement. When leadership is ignorant or inattentive to these issues within their corporation, it drives corporate culture down and contributes to the overall detriment of the workplace.

7. Employee Apathy

Every employee has substandard days for a myriad of reasons, but when the workplace is constantly plagued by low energy and low morale, it spreads like a cancer throughout the organization. Employees who are engaged in the workplace increase productivity and customer experience. When apathy spreads throughout the workplace, it usually indicates that the root cause is pervasive, effects everyone, and needs to be neutralized as soon as possible.  

6. Pervasive Problems

If your organization is running into the same problems quarter to quarter, this is a major red flag. The nature of the problems are insignificant—whether it’s a problem with internal processes or multiple complaints of harassment, the fact that the problem continues to thrive within the workplace indicates that there is a fundamental issue with internal processes or personnel. While each issue may have resolved initially, the root of the problem was never identified or addressed. A healthy cycle of corporate culture cannot grow in such an environment.

5. Poor Investments in People

When it comes to hiring and promoting employees, sometimes leadership does not always make a sound investment in a single employee. It happens in every business, where a new hire or promoted employee does not meet expectations as predicted. This can bring internal operations to a screeching halt, whether executives elect to correct this poor investment via termination and turn-over, or to ignore the issue and allow that employee to continue stalling the corporation’s mission.

4. Questionable Ethics

“Questionable ethics” does not mean that it’s apparent that there is illegal or ethically unclear practices taking place within the workplace—otherwise it would be much higher on this list. “Questionable ethics” actually refers to individual employees’ understanding and ability to explain their company’s values. Regardless of intent, corporations are sometimes vague about their mission or values, using rosy words that denote a company with integrity and passion for bringing their products and consumers together. This can make it difficult for employees to intellectualize company goals and vision. When the workforce does not have a clear, common goal to achieve as a whole, employees can easily become detached and apathetic.

3. Lack of Accountability

When corporate culture is healthy, there is a mindful unity throughout the workforce, in which individual employees are content, engaged, and working towards the same goal. When the corporate culture is poor, individual employees at all levels refuse to take responsibility when something goes wrong. Lack of accountability for a mistake or oversight leads to a great deal of finger-pointing and shrugging in meetings and over email, and slows down the wheels of progress within a corporation or organization.

2. Bad Behavior in Leadership

Corporate culture audits can catch some of the most elusive culprits of tainting corporate culture: Executives and leadership. The old adage goes, “The fish stinks from the head,” meaning that most distasteful things within a company or organization can be traced back to leadership. Whether it is a supervising manager or an executive, bad behavior on behalf of leadership always trickles down into the rest of the workforce, because the supposition is, “If the boss is doing this, it must be okay.” This applies to all levels of bad behavior, from theft to malingering and everything in between.

1. Lack of Diversity

The number one indicator that your company or organization might need a corporate culture audit is a lack of diversity in the workforce. Any corporate culture that is homogenized with regards to race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or even age lacks the inherent ability to grow and change. Leadership in the workplace—management and executive positions—are dominated by cisgender, straight, white men, who are statistically projected to hire other individuals who are also in this category. Individuals in this category are hired, mentored, and promoted more than others, which feeds into a cycle of stagnation that will ultimately disbenefit the company or organization. The value of diversity comes with the support of trusted employees from many walks of life—employees who have had different life experiences and have a perspective that can reinvigorate an organization’s vision or mission—ensuring that the pursuits of the workplace are growing and changing along with the rest of the economy.