Theft is one of those issues that really shouldn’t happen in a workplace. When it does, it can strike discord through the workplace and damage the trust between employees.
The assumption of trust and safety that comes with a workplace is important for a healthy culture. Employees need to feel as though they can trust not only the people they work with, but the safety of the space they occupy, and the management team to keep the environment secure. Ultimately, taking measures to prevent theft before it happens will help everyone, and prevent complicated HR situations.
Avoid Accidental Incidents
A lot of tension can be caused by smaller, accidental events. Like someone’s lunch getting taken out of the fridge and moved, or eaten. Provide tape and markers for employees to mark their food with, and make sure that everyone knows: unmarked food gets thrown out at the end of the week.
If you have coat racks, you might want to consider doing the same. Labelling coats, and posting a reminder that people do not leave keys and valuables in their coat pockets during a shift.
One big cause of items getting misplaced accidentally is desk switching. If people don’t have assigned desks, or if they move around a lot, greater care has to be taken to make sure that things don’t get misplaced.
There is a great deal that an employee can do to improve their personal security both outside of work and in the office. Remind employees not to leave valuables in their vehicles, and to leave anything they don’t need at home. If employees use mobile devices for work, there should definitely be extra training about device security and the management of company information.
Provide Secure Storage
Part of that feeling of security in the workplace can come from the tools that you provide your employees with. Giving them access to storage that’s personal and secure is a great way to avoid any incidents that will damage the workplace culture. Storage lockers are a great way to achieve this. Each employee will have their own space to store whatever they need to without having to worry. Everyone likes to think the best of their company, and assume that theft won’t happen. But it doesn’t hurt to be safe.
Establish a Clear Policy
Perhaps the biggest effect you can have on workplace trust is through policy. If you make it clear right from the start that theft won’t be tolerated, and how severe the punishment will be, you’ve already gone a long way to preventing it. When you’re penning HR policy, it can be a good idea to discuss the constructive reasoning for policy and its effect on culture, rather than focus just on the consequences. Take some time to explain why a culture of trust is so important, and the damage that breaking that trust does to the community of peers in the company. This doesn’t just apply to theft. Communication in the workplace is vital, so engage in conversations about what the workplace means to your employees regularly.
As much as it might feel better to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, it takes some work on the part of management and HR professionals to keep the workplace environment safe and secure. So don’t be afraid to nip these problems in the bud.