1. Theft from You
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It is a sad fact that some employees steal from you. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates three out of four employees commit at least a single act of company theft. Half of those, commit theft on a repetitive basis. Employee theft is considered a major contributor to 30% of business failures.
The most common theft is monetary. For example, a tech collects cash on a call and modifies the invoice to lower the total, pocketing the difference. Or, a manager creates a fictious company that invoices the business for imaginary material. Worse, a bookkeeper pays 941s to himself and disappears after a couple of years when the letters from the IRS begin to pile up.
Some employees steal time by disappearing while on the clock to run personal errands and even, do side work. Using your vehicles to perform side work is a form of theft, not to mention misappropriating company supplies or material for side work or personal use.
If you think theft cannot happen in your business, guess again. According to the Chamber, 75% of employee theft goes unnoticed.
2.Theft from Your Customers
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As we transition to more of a cashless society where everything is paid for with credit and debit cards, the opportunity for field service employees to engage in credit card theft is skyrocketing. Not only can they take pictures of the front and back, handheld skimmers make it possible to collect everything on the mag stripe.
While there are plenty of anecdotal accounts of individuals getting caught pilfering customer credit cards, no one really knows how big the problem is. We do know that every contractor is at risk.
Contractors are also at risk for more straight forward acts. For example, one contractor discovered a technician was casing homes on service calls so he could return later for a little burglary to support his drug habit.
3. Quitting Without Notice
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It’s crunch time. Everyone is stressed. You need all hands on deck when a key employee fails to show up. The first day you wonder if you forgot about a birthday, day off, or other reason for the employee’s absence. The second day you start asking co-workers. By the third day, you’re worried and calling everyone you know. You learn the employee has started work with another company and simply not bothered to tell you. This immediately sets off alarms about the potential reason for the employee to leave.
4. Quitting and Collecting a Check
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Some employees mentally check out. They show up, but they aren’t working. As long as you keep paying them, they will keep showing up. In essence, they have quit and not bothered to tell anyone. If the individual is a long-standing employee, was loyal in the past, or is simply someone you personally like, you might go to extremes to try to save the person, to no avail. Again, as long as you keep paying, the person keeps showing up.
5. Stealing Your Customers
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Next to theft, one of the more personal betrayals occurs when an employee leaves you, and leaves with your customers. You invested in recruiting these customers. You introduced them to the employee. You built up the employee with your customers. This seems like the worst kind of theft because the employee is stealing your future.
6. Slandering You
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Some employees will slander you after leaving, especially if the separation is forced. They will fabricate stories about you and make you out to be a harsh employer, a liar, dishonest, etc.
Minimize Betrayal: Background Checks
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While you will never eliminate employee betrayal, there are things you can do to minimize it. Start by screening well. Make sure you conduct full criminal and credit background checks. Call references and ask questions. Betrayal is habitual.
Minimize Betrayal: Reporting Hotlines
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Subscribe to an anonymous fraud reporting hotline like the one the Service Nation Alliance offers to its members. People do not like being a “snitch” and are more likely to use an anonymous method of reporting co-worker fraud than coming forward. The mere presence of the hotline tends to defer bad behavior because it increases the chance of getting caught.
Minimize Betrayal: Non-compete Agreements
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When hiring, require non-competes. While you cannot prevent someone leaving and going into business or going to work for a competitor, you can keep your customers off-limits for a period of two to three years.
Minimize Betrayal: Checks and Balances
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Implement good checks and balances to minimize fraud opportunities. Use a P.O. box for mail that you check or have your bank statements, credit card bills, and IRS correspondence sent to your home. Give different people the ability to print and sign checks. Make sure you use a purchase order system and an approved vendor list that is reviewed annually.
Minimize Betrayal: Act Decisively
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When problems are discovered, act quickly and decisively. At the same time, be generous with people who play by the rules and are gracious. For example, when an employee leaves in the right way you may not choose to celebrate their departure publicly, but you can treat them well privately. Being a stand up company supports stand up employee behavior.
Minimize Betrayal: Communicate the Consequences
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Communicate the dire consequences of bad behavior through stories you share with the current team. These stories should illustrate how past betrayals worked out poorly for the employee.
Then Move On
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Finally, set proper expectations for yourself. Believe in the best of people, but never be surprised by ingratitude and selfishness. When it occurs, let it go. Focusing on it will hold you back. Instead, figure that betrayal is as old as Cain and while it might happen to you from time to time, it stands out because it is the exception, not the rule. Letting bad behavior by post employees jade you is the ultimate betrayal and it is self-inflicted
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