You never want to think the worst, especially about the employees who work for you and have contact with the public, but unfortunate situations occur. We've all read or know about a case where a trusted employee was found to be embezzling; it's not common but it happens.



Preventing employee theft and/or fraud doesn't mean being a hard-nosed dictator. Most employee relations consultants suggest that having company incentive programs to reward productivity and cost savings plus maintaining general good relations with employees by treating them fairly goes a long way toward preventing discontented employee actions. Even making sure employees take all their vacation is best in the long run.



But just for the sake of good business practices and to protect yourself and the company, here are some ideas used by other companies. The concepts came from the latest issue of Planet Advantage, targeted to the Professional Landcare Network of landscapers and outdoor maintenance company owners. The suggestions to these businesses that are comparable in size to ag retailers included:

  • Purchase an employee dishonesty insurance rider to go along with your other business insurance.
  • Do a thorough background check on all new hires.You never want to think the worst, especially about the employees who work for you and have contact with the public, but unfortunate situations occur. We've all read or know about a case where a trusted employee was found to be embezzling; it's not common but it happens.
  • It is appropriate to have employees drug tested as part of the hiring process, especially since they will probably be operating vehicles or equipment.
  • Use purchase orders for supplies, materials, equipment and services and have a small number of employees authorized to make such purchases.
  • Have routine audits conducted including payroll, payables and receivables.
  • Reconcile checking accounts on a monthly basis and cash accounts daily.
  • Mark all tools, equipment (even vehicles) with paint and engraving.
  • Maintain an up-to-date inventory of all assets with photographs in a fire-safe place and usually off site.
  • Keep a full record of all purchases from what vendor, when and for how much with as many details as possible including date, serial number and complete descriptor.
  • Include wording in employment contracts that holds employees responsible for irresponsible actions resulting in loss of company assets. (Need labor and employment lawyer assistance for writing.)
  • For overall business protection, have employees sign a non-compete clause to help protect company secrets, proprietary information, client lists and computer software programs, etc. (Again use labor and employment lawyer assistance for wording.)
  • File police reports and prosecute when appropriate to discourage additional wrong doing.

I'm not suggesting that employees are inherently dishonest, but your business can lose and you can personally be held responsible for actions of your employees in dealing with the public. I'm kind of glad that I'm the employee rather than the employer with all of today's regulations and responsibilities.