Business Security

How to Detect Trouble in Your Company

Written by Jay Shapiro for Gaebler Ventures

The business owner who possesses great powers of deduction can quickly put a stop to internal problems in the workplace by spotting them before they get out of hand.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's maverick detective Sherlock Holmes seemed magically to be able to solve mysteries and stick it to the criminal.

But there was actually no magic involved, clever Sherlock used his great skill at observation to his benefit. Often depicted in a deer-stalker hat and wielding a magnifying glass, the detective's image is synonymous with efficient problem solving and the bringing about of justice.

While Holmes was often approached at his Baker Street rooms in London, the crimes he dealt with took place in many different locations. Sometimes the office environment or workplace can be vulnerable to petty crime. That's nothing too serious, you might think, but when supplies like stationery items continually go missing it has a direct negative impact on your expenditure. Over time, paying for staples and folders and envelopes that just go walkabout is a drain on your funds.

It's not nice to think that your staff members might be stealing from you. Often, when they are, they don't see it like that. The odd pack of post-it notes can't cost the company that much.

There are countless ways that opportunist members of staff will try to take advantage of you. And there are as many ways open to you to stop them. You don't need to don a deerstalker, smoke a meerschaum or have magnifying glass about your person. But you do need to keep your eye on things, and that means being in touch with what's happening around you and sharpening your powers of observation.

If Sherlock was in your place he'd pretty quickly alight on the fact that Fred in the art department always works late, and yet he doesn't produce any more work than his colleagues. Sherlock would wonder at Fred's supposed dedication. And so should you. If staff members are eager to stay behind after hours but have nothing to show for having done so, then check the store cupboard. Chances are you'll find the shelves aren't as packed with supplies as you'd thought. Simple sums needed here – hours worked should be = to work produced.

No business can afford to lose money, but smaller ones suffer more from the effects of in house pilfering. And unscrupulous members of staff will steal the oddest of things. If you think the billing for lavatory paper seems unusually high since you hired Joan in admin, find out if she makes more trips than is humanly necessary to the washroom. What? You don't think people would bother stealing toilet rolls? These types will steal anything if it saves them buying it. So keep an eye on the bills for all sanitary items. Again, rudimentary math and logic solves the conundrum. Increase in billing ties in with the advent of Joan's employment with you. You've got your paper pincher!

Petty theft often takes place in such a subtle way that it's easily overlooked.

While it can make you feel uncomfortable if you have suspicions about the integrity of your staff, use the right means of detecting trouble and you'll be better able to resolve the situation.

Jay Shapiro is a freelance writer based in the UK. Jay has a particular interest in the emotive aspects of the entrepreneur's character. "Alongside the nuts and bolts of business, the character of the person is often the ingredient responsible for success."

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