by K.J. Smith, Special to bizNEVADA
Stripped from the headlines on a daily basis are stories of workplace violence. Things have gotten so bad with enraged employees that active shooter training for corporations is becoming as common as customer service workshops.
Although these events draw the biggest attention, there is an older and more prevalent crime wave crashing through small, medium, and large businesses. That crime is—employee theft.
There are some studies which reveal as many as 70 percent of employees privately admit to having stolen from an employer at some point in their lifetime. In many cases, this may be as innocuous as pocketing some office supplies or adding a few extra drinks for friends or family on the company’s credit card. But, sadly, there is a growing caseload of companies having to file for bankruptcy as a result of embezzlement. When you are a small firm with a million dollars in annual revenues, even an internal theft in the tens of thousands is enough to mortally wound a company.
So how do you go about protecting yourself? Is it possible? Or are we defenseless against the rising tides of human frailty? As a partner of more than 20 years in a company providing background screening and investigation services, I can honestly tell you there is no perfect solution. There are no guarantees. However; you do have the ability to tremendously reduce your risk with a thorough and professionally managed background screening program.
In fact, having one of these programs is as critical to the viability and survival of your company as is having anti-virus software on your company computers and servers. Unfortunately, so few companies have adequate programs in place. Worse, many of them think they do, and yet their screening plans are woefully inadequate.
The biggest issue is that many companies are relying on dirt cheap national screening programs that, unfortunately (and unknown to their users), don’t have access to many Nevada court records! This means they are often misleading and useless when it comes to protecting your employees.
There is another major problem with corporate background screening programs which flies under the radar of most business owners, CEO’s and even human resources experts. That problem is that people change, and the longer your employees are with you, the more they change. Hopefully for the better. But, sometimes this is not the case, and their situations at home are creating extraordinary pressures on their performance and trustworthiness at the office. They have health challenges that create crushing debt. Or gambling or substance abuse problems that produce the same negative results.
Then there are family crises which can cause tremendous emotional damage. Sometimes, it’s merely a case of someone who loved working for you, and now they don’t. And because of this, they aren’t going to tell you they have lost their driving license as a result of a DUI and shouldn’t be making those quick runs to your clients’ offices anymore.
In other words, that wonderful, dear, trusted employee of so many years, can no longer be trusted. They’ve become unhinged, and no one at the office has a clue they have reached a tipping point that could endanger your other employees or cripple your company’s fiscal health.
What this means is if you’re only screening new hires, your “anti-virus software” isn’t providing full protection. That’s like installing it on new computers, but not putting it on your servers or all of the computers on the network.
The reality is many companies do pre-employment background screening, which will keep you from hiring a bad apple. But, all too few do an annual screening of their entire team to ensure there aren’t worms getting into your once shining apples.
The simple solution is to do what we call, “hitting the reset button” on your company’s safety and security. What we offer to our clients is a program where we will perform a comprehensive screening of their entire existing workforce. Then we manage screening for new hires, as well as providing annual screening for everyone in your company.
This type of program may require an official change in your company policy to properly administer the service, but whatever effort it will take will be a small price to pay for the tremendous confidence boost you’ll get in having a better idea of who exactly is working for you. And, your team will thank you for the investment in ensuring a safe, secure and highly productive workplace.
After all, a safe workplace is the number one most important employee benefit you can possibly offer. And it’s the one benefit, your team most deserves.
KJ Smith is the CEO of Employer Lynx. She has dedicated her life to promoting a safer workplace for all.