Each and every establishment owner wants a team of employers they can trust, and employee theft is something that no restaurant owner wants to experience. According to a National Restaurant Association study in 2013, internal employee theft accounts for 75% of inventory shortages and 4% of sales, which means that preventing theft should be a priority for any restaurant owner.

Theft prevention is easier said than done, though. You don’t want to create an atmosphere of distrust between your colleagues, and at the same time, your employees don’t want to feel like they are under surveillance whenever they are on shift. Fortunately, there are ways that restaurant owners and managers can make subtle changes that will aid theft prevention without turning your establishment into something from 1984.

Background checks during the employment process

If you want to stamp out theft, the best chance you have is to do so from the beginning. When you are employing staff, make sure that you do a background check on them. You should have at least two references to check from their previous employers, and it is easy to check to see if they have a criminal record or prior history of theft. If you commit to checking your potential staff, you won’t find yourself having to count your losses later.

Lay out the law from day one

As well as background checks on potential employees, it is also recommended that you let your employees know how seriously you take employee theft. Simply writing a few words in a Code of Conduct or Employee Handbook isn’t enough. We all know that these are skimmed through at best. You need to look your employees in the eye and let them know that any level of employee theft will not be tolerated, and that you will prosecute without any exception. Any employers who have even considered stealing from you or their colleagues will be thinking twice from then on.

Take time to get to know your employees

Your employees are the lifeblood of the business, so treat them with the respect they deserve. Take time out of your day to get to know them as individuals and talk to them about their day, their hopes and aspirations, their problems, and their favorite sports teams. The more you know about your employees – and the more that they know that you care about them – the less likely they are to take liberties with your trust and loyalty.

Install security cameras

When you hear the words “security cameras”, it is easy to think of wall-to-wall cameras following your every move. But in truth, you only need a few cameras covering the most important areas – including the POS machines, bar and front door – to ensure that all your employees know that they will be spotted if they try to take advantage of you. Most restaurants will be fitted with security cameras anyway, so extra fittings shouldn’t be required just for employee theft. Just consider which areas will be surveyed when you have them installed.

Supervise all cancellations and voided payments

Many restaurateurs will supervise cancellations and any voided transactions or payments, or ask their supervisors or shift leaders to carry them out. This is to keep the number of people who have access to these functions to a minimum, and so that the person responsible can be found right away if there are any irregularities. This will deter any potential thief from using cancellations and/or voids as a way of stealing.

Check for irregularities on your POS systems

One of the many great features of the modern POS systems is that it is easy to track irregularities with the aforementioned cancellations and voids, but also any other activities that could be seen as suspicious. For example, if an employee is cancelling items from customer bills and pocketing the difference for themselves, the POS system will be tracking this, and the manager will be able to see that and take appropriate action.

As long as you are vigilant, take extra time during the employment and initiation process of new staff to make sure you have trustworthy and respectful employees, and deal with security and monitoring in the right way, you can prevent employee theft without making too many changes to the day-to-day operation of your restaurant business.