A new survey out by careerbuilder.com found that office supplies topped the list of hot loot stolen at work. Rod Kurtz, senior editor for Inc. magazine, explains how to cut down on office theft and keep employee morale high.
Every office has its own horror stories about boxes of pens that disappeared at the same time as school starts and post-it notes vanishing by the truckload. While most employers don't mind seeing a few pens walk out the door some are finding thousands of dollars disappear yearly into a black hole of employee theft.
How big of an issue is office theft?
Believe it or not, all those missing pens and post-it note pads add up to more than $50 billion a year in office theft.
Why do employees steal from the office?
People steal for a variety of reasons, including employee dissatisfaction, a sense of entitlement, or simply the thrill to steal. Most people who take office supplies for personal use don’t consider it stealing. Some help themselves to supplies unwittingly when they take work home with them, while others consider it a fringe benefit and believe it would not matter if their boss caught them.
What are employees stealing?
Nothing extravagant and mainly items that are in office supply rooms such as pens, post-it notes, highlighters, break room items such as coffee packets, cocoa, Sweet ‘N Low, toilet paper, even office décor such as plants and paintings.
Do office thieves fit a certain profile?
Unfortunately you can’t accurately determine who is likely to steal, but young workers are twice as likely than older colleagues to steal office supplies for home use without thinking it is wrong. And people with healthcare, IT and manufacturing jobs tend to have the highest levels of office theft.
When does office theft become dangerous for a company?
A survey done by Harris Interactive and lawyers.com revealed that along with pens and paper clips employees admitted to stealing things that could drastically affect a company’s future success, such as classified information or confidential files. An employee who leaves for a competing firm or to start their own business can wipe out a small firm’s sales if they take valuable confidential information with them.
In the end is it worth it for employees to take the risk?
While a Careerbuilder.com survey found only 10 percent of employees admitted to stealing from their employers, a recent Inc.com poll found four out of 10 managers have fired an employee for stealing. When you consider what’s at stake, it’s really not worth losing your job or burning a bridge with your employer.