NEW YORK -- Small businesses can reduce their chances of employee theft or limit their losses by implementing technological controls and checks and balances in their daily operations.
The thin staffing at many small businesses can make them vulnerable to theft. So can small companies' tendency to have less sophisticated technology practices.
Five ways that companies can protect themselves:
— Make sure that responsibility for finances doesn't rest with only one person, says Doug Karpp, a senior vice president with insurer Hiscox. At the least, "business owners should have their bank statements sent to their home instead of the business, and given to their accountants to review," Karpp says.
— When a staffer quits or is fired, their access to the company's computer system and email should be cut off immediately. Any passwords they use should be changed. Owners may also want to consider having the staffer leave the day they give notice.
"All the things that go hand in hand with the termination of an employee in a large company, a small company needs to think of too," says Shira Forman, an employment attorney with Sheppard Mullin in New York.
— Watch out for suspicious behavior that could be a tipoff about stealing, says Rick Gibbs, a consultant with human resources provider Insperity. For example, consider a staffer who never takes vacation or days off. While they could be dedicated, they could also be trying to make sure that no one else gets to fill in for them and see what they've been doing.
— Surveillance cameras can discourage staffers from stealing property, Gibbs says. Even if a camera is not a deterrent, the owner can see who the thief was.
— If an owner suspects or is aware of a theft, they should consult with an attorney or HR provider to decide the best cause of action. They should also take steps to limit or stop the damage. In the case of a technologically savvy staffer, an owner needs to be sure the employee isn't in a position to harm the company's systems, Forman says.
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