News for the Hospitality Executive
Internal Theft in the Hospitality Industry
60% of employees will never steal from their boss
30% will steal only if given the opportunity
10% will find a way to steal under almost any circumstance
By Errick Calloway
May 9, 2011
For far too long the hospitality industry and the retail industry have been looked at completely differently with regard to theft and operational losses. This is very evident specifically pertaining to employee theft. But are these industries that different? Is there any less opportunity in a hotel or campground then there is in a major department store? If so, what? Can the loss prevention retail approach work in the hospitality industry? First we have to answer the question, “Why do people steal from their employer in the first place?”
Contrary to popular belief, it is usually not the disgruntled employee that is going to steal from you. Disgruntled employees are usually ok because they tell you what is on their mind, both professionally and personally. So how can you identify a potentially dishonest employee and what is going through their mind before they commit a theft?
1. Behavioral indicators: Identify the possibility for “need” and look for changes in behavior.
A normally on time employee is suddenly late all the time. A normally late employee is suddenly always on time. (That may seem odd at first, but consider the possibility that they took the money from you to pay for car repairs) A normally quiet person is all of a sudden up beat and talkative and vice versa. Pay very close attention to the above behaviors in conjunction with a recent divorce, medical procedure, car repossession, ongoing custody battles, death in the family, etc. This can be both personally and within close family or friend contacts. One thing all dishonest employees have in common is need. After they determine they need it more then the company, next is rationalization/ justification.
2. The mental process: The need to rationalize and justify the theft takes over.
After an employee determines the need is too great to overcome, they still have to justify taking something that does not belong to them. This is done by de-humanizing the company. By first rationalizing that they need it more then the company, it will make it easier later to deal with the guilt. They look at the “boss” as a nameless and faceless rich entity that will not miss the money/ merchandise. Then they convince themselves that the company deserves to be ripped off because they either did not care enough about “me” or that they made it so easy to steal that they had it coming to them all along. These emotions grow over time along with confidence. That is why most dishonest employees do not stop, take more chances, and increase the amount they take each time. How easy would it be for a hotel manager to let friends and family stay for free?
Now that the why has been explained; what steps should be taken to first prevent dishonest employees from being hired and identify the employees who later decide to become dishonest.
About the Author:
Errick Calloway is the sole proprietor of Prevention Unlimited. He has over 12 years of loss prevention experience across many different industries, to include, but not limited to, department store retail, hospitality, specialty retail, restaurant, and grocery. Over the last five years, Errick’s focus has been employee theft investigations and compliance auditing. Specializing in “cold interviewing”, Errick employs the Wicklander/ Zulawski and Reid techniques of interview and interrogation as well as kinesics (body language) to illicit confessions for theft and fraud. This combined with his ability to custom create audits based on the specific needs of the client, Errick has the ability to obtain confessions without evidence in many cases. In addition to the aforementioned experience, Errick is proficient at the operation/ installation of CCTV (close circuit television) and all aspects of physical security as well. To learn more about Errick’s approach and philosophy, please visit: PreventionUnlimited.com or contact him at ThinkShrink@PreventionUnlimited.com.