It’s no secret that when it comes to loss prevention, your employees have the ability to make or break your business. They can come forward and report their co-workers’ misdeeds or simply look the other way and pretend it doesn’t affect them. Enticing employees to report their co-workers’ misdeeds for the greater good of the company is a delicate subject that requires more than just offering up a few key incentives. Instead, you need to strategically evaluate why these employees ultimately make the decision to look the other way, so you can get to the root of the problem. Only then will your loss prevention system function properly and protect your bottom line.
So, where do you begin?
Understanding There's a Problem
Loss prevention efforts need to start from the very beginning. Your employees may not even realize that your store has a shrinkage problem. However, they can’t keep an eye out for something they don’t know exists. In order to explain the issue, you might want to hold an all-employee meeting where you explain what’s going on and the vigilant role that each employee plays in preventing and stopping the shrinkage. You could also place notices in the breakroom, send employee emails, or make them aware of the current situation in a variety of other ways. Often, utilizing more than one of these methods is the most effective plan — just in case someone misses a meeting or doesn’t get a chance to read a particular notice or email. You want your message to reach every employee.
Making Your Employees Part of the Solution
On top of presenting the problem to your workers in a genuine way, you also need to make it clear that they are an important part of the solution. Explain what measures they can take to help as well as what to look out for. Some employees may not realize what this type of theft looks like, so they may genuinely have nothing to report. This is where a solid, comprehensive training program comes into play. Knowledge is power. The more they know, the better.
What's in It for Them?
It’s human nature — employees want to know if they do something for you, what you’ll do in return for them. Implementing an incentive program is often the key to ensuring your employees will come forward when they see something that could jeopardize your business. Without proper motivation, employees may feel that speaking up, potentially angering their co-workers, and ostracizing themselves is not a worthwhile proposition. Depending on the company, gift cards and other monetary incentives may be enough to motivate employees. However, sometimes the gift of time is the biggest incentive an employer can offer — things like additional paid time off or vacation days are what truly motivate employees. Whatever incentives you decide to offer to motivate your employees, you must be clear that these rewards will only be issued if a genuine issue is brought to light and the perpetrator is caught.
Providing Clear Guidelines
You also need to craft some clear guidelines for your employees to follow. Many of these things include issues which have already been discussed, like pointing out what to look for and the incentives offered. Your guidelines should detail who to go to with problems and what actions to take regarding specific situations. Ideally, you want your employees to speak to their immediate supervisor unless they are the guilty party. Provide employees with a clear hierarchy chart that shows who is next in line in their reporting chain to prevent any potential issues.
Someone Needs to Go First
Unfortunately, no one ever wants to be first. In some workplaces, the whistleblower is the one who gets ostracized by their peers or nicknamed a “narc” for following through and bringing to light their co-workers’ misdeeds. The problem is that for the financial security of your business, someone must go first in order to establish a proper pattern of moral behavior for others to follow. Putting an anonymous method of communication in place for these situations is one way to ensure that your employees won’t be called out for actively reporting what’s going on behind the scenes. Another is to lead by example and create a supportive system of supervisors on every level who will have that first whistleblower’s back, so others can see that their involvement truly is for the betterment of the company. Providing a supportive environment helps ensure that other employees won’t be afraid to follow through if they see a misdeed occurring in the future.
In the end, the success of your loss prevention system hinges on your ability to make your employees comfortable with the motto, “See something, say something.” Only with your employees’ help can your loss prevention efforts prove consistent and effective.