Although no accurate studies exist on how much construction site theft is attributable to staff or subcontractors, some of the general statistics relating to employee theft are shocking:
90% of all significant business losses are caused by employee theft
75% of employees have stolen at least once from their employer
60% of employees would steal if they knew they would get away with it
Although these statistics may vary within the construction industry, one thing is for sure - it pays to understand what causes internal theft and invest in ways to mitigate it.
Below, WCCTV explores some of the reasons for staff theft and how you can prevent this.
Several factors can influence an employee's decision to take company property.
Below, we highlight the five most commonly cited reasons for employee theft.
1. Theft From a Company is a Victimless Crime: There is a theory that theft from a company is a victimless crime as companies make lots of money, have insurance, and can easily replace items taken.
2. Because They Can: Most employee theft is opportunistic. The stolen items are either not well secured, the company has poor inventory systems, or items are not tracked.
3. Disciplinary Issues: Over 60% of employees who have been caught stealing company property have had previous HR issues before the theft. The act of the theft may be in response to conflict with a supervisor, lack of promotion opportunities, or other workplace problems.
4. They Are Predisposed to Theft: Looking at the statistics quoted above, it is surprising how many employees would take the opportunity to steal company property; some individuals are likely to be predisposed to theft if the opportunity presents itself.
5. They Feel Mistreated or Undervalued: If there is poor workplace culture, low wages, heavy-handed discipline, or little respect or recognition of workers' efforts, they may feel more justified in taking company property.
Construction sites contain many valuable materials, several of which have increased in value over the last few years as demand outstrips supply.
Employees can quite easily take and resell many of these smaller items, such as hand and power tools. Larger items such as metals and timber present a more difficult challenge to internal thieves but offer a much higher reward.
Statistics show that companies lose 20 cents on the dollar to employee theft, but the actual costs for construction companies go much deeper.
As well as the direct cost of replacing stolen items, construction companies also have to consider:
Project delays waiting for the replacement equipment or items.
The cost of having the item unavailable
Specialist tradespeople may have to return to the project at an additional cost to install the replacement item
Management time used to order the replacement items and investigate the theft
Rising insurance premiums as a result of losses
The above puts to rest any suggestion that theft from companies is a victimless crime. The vast majority of companies do not have endless resources of cash. Indeed 33% of all business bankruptcies in the US result from employee theft.
Firstly, understanding the key reasons that lead to employee theft and knowing how to spot the signs is essential in reducing the likelihood of it occurring.
There are several other steps you can take to help mitigate employee theft. These include:
1. Background Checks: Before hiring staff or subcontractors, a thorough background check is always advisable. This will help flag whether they have a history of stealing from previous employers.
2. Minimize Opportunities: Download your free copy of WCCTV's Comprehensive Guide to Job Site Security which outlines the best ways to minimize theft from sites, including establishing effective site shut down routines, taking regular stock inventory, and restricting access to valuable materials.
3. Open Lines of Communication: We have already highlighted that one of the main reasons for employee theft is a feeling of resentment caused by feeling undervalued or unappreciated. Regular conversations with your team about their sentiment towards you and the company will help indicate any potential red flag and hopefully help resolve issues.
4. Drug and Alcohol Testing: Construction sites are hazardous places to work, so a regular drug and alcohol testing policy should already be part of your safety program. But this can also help you identify those who may have substance dependency issues that may lead them down a path of theft.
5. Utilize Surveillance Cameras: The presence of surveillance cameras on site will have a positive psychological effect on your employee's behavior. Knowing that your most valuable items are covered by a watchful eye collecting evidence will remove the sense that theft is something they can get away with easily.
WCCTV is the USA's leading expert in providing managed surveillance cameras for construction job site security.
Our highest quality security cameras are supported by a service that ensures your sites are protected 24/7, with minimal impact on your time or resources.
Our rapid-deployment cameras can be utilized for multiple applications, including security, time lapse video capture, and remote project management.
We can provide cameras that function whether you have power or are dependent on solar energy. Our units contain 4G LTE transmission technology allowing them to operate entirely autonomously.
We have a security solution for you no matter what site you're on.
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