Running a business isn’t easy at the best of times and involves everything from keeping in touch with clients to looking after staff, maintaining stock levels and generating sales. Employers’ responsibilities are as wide as they are extensive. However, there is one side of running a business that’s often overlooked by company owners – security.
While crimes against companies aren’t as common as offenses against individuals, they can cost considerably more money and have far-reaching implications, from impeding day-to-day operations to possibly even forcing a company to close.
Just as with civilian crime, there is a huge range of offenses that can be committed against businesses. However, as a rule, they tend to fall into three main brackets – employee crime, non-employee crime and cybercrime.
As a business grows, it inevitably needs more people to help it run smoothly and even the smallest companies tend to operate more efficiently and effectively with more than one person at the helm. Unfortunately, not all employees share the same dedication and honesty as their bosses and staff crime is one of the biggest risks companies face.
Employees are often put in positions of responsibility affording them access to money, sensitive company information and merchandise. This leaves the door wide open for abuse if employees aren’t principled and sincere. The most common offenses include stealing money or goods and embezzlement.
To prevent falling victim to employee crime, start by trying to hire the best, most trustworthy people. Before choosing who to employ, use the services of a screening company to verify references and do background checks – including checking social media profiles. Instigate protocols at work to help reduce the chances of theft and run regular audits on employee behavior and performance. If your rules are crystal clear, there is considerably less chance staff will abuse them.
For retail companies, shoplifting is by far the most common type of crime. Shoplifters are often impossible to differentiate from normal customers. Common tactics include working in teams, with one person serving to distract staff while the other(s) pocket goods. Other common types of non-employee crime that beset all businesses include theft and breaking and entering.
To prevent shoplifting, engage as much as possible with your customers and maintain eye contact. Genuine shoppers will appreciate the extra attention – while a shoplifter will typically be put off and leave. Also, design an open floor plan with your goods in plain sight at all times. It is also a good idea to install cameras and mirrors – both of which can dissuade would-be shoplifters.
To prevent break-ins or theft, install locks or door card access systems to stop unwanted individuals from entering your building. Also, ensure your building is well-lit at night and consider adding CCTV monitoring. You should also ensure you have a monitored alarm system fitted, which will send a signal to police in the event of a break-in.
The Internet has revolutionized the way we do business, but connected computers have also given criminals unprecedented opportunities to access sensitive – often essential – private company data. Hacking and viruses cost businesses billions of dollars every year and cybercrime is cited as the number one risk facing companies today. Indeed, by next year, online crime is expected to cost $6 trillion annually – and there are no signs the problem is going to get any better, any time soon.
To protect your company from cybercrime, take a few sensible precautions like installing anti-virus software, setting up a firewall and using alphanumeric passwords (which you should change regularly). Better yet, consider employing the services of an IT specialist to look after your online security, networking and storage requirements. Also, remember to monitor risks from within and keep a close eye on employees who have access to privileged company data.