THE MAGAZINE

Using Culture to Cure Theft

By Millie Kresevich

Any store can make itself an incubator for disgruntled employees primed for crime, or it can recognize the problem and instead proactively create the environment in which employees thrive and business prospers.

I caught my first thief working in a large retail environment 11 years ago. My adrenaline was pumping, and I couldn’t wait for the next opportunity to nab another employee who had gone astray. For the next several years, I caught one worker after another. Along the way, I became curious about what had made these individuals steal from their employers.

In the beginning, I believed that employees stole from the company because they needed the money or because they wanted the product and couldn’t pay for it. In time, through experience and research, I learned that many other factors contributed to counterproductive behavior in the workplace. Years of investigations into employee theft revealed factors common to those environments in which dishonesty flourished. These factors, in turn, led me to develop a training program designed to foster integrity and reduce insider theft. As the following account of my own experience shows, any store can make itself an incubator for disgruntled employees primed for crime, or it can recognize the problem and instead proactively create the environment in which employees thrive and business prospers.

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