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Protecting Your Employees from Workplace Theft

Having items go missing at work is not an uncommon occurrence. Usually, it’s just aggravating—like someone stealing a sandwich from the refrigerator. But other incidents can be more damaging, and they may occur in unexpected ways. Earlier today, Seattle police arrested a man who had been visiting office buildings and lifting employees’ personal property. According to KiroTV, the burglar specialized in taking laptops, purses, cash and credit cards. He slipped in and out of offices just as people were arriving in the morning and leaving in the evening, counting on the rush and bustle to cover his movements. As you can imagine, a lot of office workers are relieved that this man has been caught.

What Happens to Workers When Their Stuff Gets Taken?

Whether it’s an outside job or the act of a coworker, employees can be shaken when their belongings are taken from the workplace. Even if the items stolen are not high in value, the fallout can be very serious. Employees may:

  • Feel violated, vulnerable, and unsafe in the workplace
  • Start to mistrust coworkers
  • Be distracted and anxious at work, lowering their productivity
  • Blame their employer for not providing a secure work environment

Workplace theft is horrible for morale. But what can you do about it?

Be Proactive and Show Employees You Care

There are a number of steps you can take to prevent and remedy these problems.

  • Be careful in hiring. Run full background checks and contact all character references.
  • Be clear about conduct guidelines and ensure supervisors and managers set the tone with high ethical standards.
  • Take all reports of workplace theft seriously and investigate thoroughly.
  • Communicate with employees about what steps are being taken to protect them and to find perpetrators.
  • Install safety and security measures in the workplace such as access control systems that make it possible to verify who is on site at all times.
  • Provide personal lockers for employees to use and encourage them to deposit all their personal items such as purses and electronics in these lockers rather than leaving items on a desk.

What additional steps do you take to keep your employees’ belongings safe at work? Share your strategies in the comments.


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