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When HR talks about theft, it’s often regarding large-scale fraud or cases of theft that have made it into the news. But the most common kind of thievery could be happening right under your nose.
Employees who steal come from all walks of life. Some might only be nicking something worth $1 from the office, while others are willing to risk taking off with items worth more than $100. All up, it’s costing companies in America more than $200 billion in losses collectively.
According to a study by GetVoIP, 21% of employees in the technology sector admit they have stolen from their employers.
The majority of respondents (66%) said they stole small ticket items ranging from US$1 to US$19. The second largest group (14%) stole items valued at US$100 or more. The remaining 11% and 9% stole items valued between US$20-$49 and US$50-$99, respectively.
So why are they stealing?
Interestingly, when asked about their motives, 29% of respondents said they took something simply because they were “too lazy to buy it”.
The second most common reason (24%) was a more opportunist or rebellious “because I can get away with it”, while 15% said they “needed the money or objects stolen”. Another 13% said it was just because they “wanted” it.
Twelve per cent stole because they “felt frustrated or dissatisfied” by their job, and 7% admitted they were “addicted to stealing”.
As for who is stealing, age and income didn’t really play a huge part if affecting employee theft, with around 20% of employees from all age and income brackets admitting to stealing before. However, there was an interesting correlation between gender and the value of the object stolen.
More female respondents mainly stole from the lowest value group (US$1 to US$19), while the second largest group of men stole items from the highest value group (US$100+).
The study suggested that to prevent employee theft, “comprehensive employee screening, robust surveillance and thorough randomised internal checks and audits are all important”.
As employee satisfaction and loyalty aids in reducing the occurrence of theft, experts also suggest HR does a better job of getting to know the people who work for you.
“Strong relationship and team-building efforts will go a long way towards building an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.”