From large-scale fraud to raids on the stationary cupboard, employee theft is an unfortunate reality. Recent estimates say that it accounts for up to $200 billion in losses across the country. Employee theft is a problem faced by companies of all sizes, but its impact on small and medium sized businesses can be disproportionately grave.

Employees who steal come from all walks of life and a wide range economic backgrounds, and their motives can be complex. In an effort to comprehend some of the driving factors behind employee theft, specifically within technology organizations, we’ve conducted an exclusive study. We decided to approach the question by addressing tech employees themselves. Have a look at what we found:

Study: 21% of Tech Employees Admit to Stealing [Infographic]

Study Methodology:
In our study, we surveyed 2,050 American tech employees via Google Consumer Surveys throughout the months of October and November 2014. In the survey, participants were asked the following questions:

  1. Do you work at a technology company? (qualifier question)
  2. Have you ever intentionally stole an object(s) from your work/employer?
  3. What was the dollar value of the item you stole?
  4. Why did you steal?

Survey stats shown above included respondents that selected “Do work at a tech company” from question 1, and excluded those that selected “Never stole from employer” from question 2, leaving a grand total of 389 qualified participants.

Theft committed by trusted employees is not a topic that anybody particularly enjoys thinking about, but the heavy price paid by affected businesses is undeniable. The economic cost is enormous, but the impact that such breaches of trust have on operational efficiency and morale are more difficult to quantify. Gaining a better understanding of the phenomenon is vital to ending it. When it comes to employee theft, knowledge really is power: the most effective anti-theft practices are based on a reliable stream of information.

Comprehensive employee screening, robust surveillance and thorough randomized internal checks and audits are all important. Many experts also say that employee satisfaction and loyalty have a huge role to play in reducing theft. Get to know the people who work for you: strong relationship and team-building efforts will go a long way towards building an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.