Everyone loves a beautifully-organized, well-stocked office supply closet. (In fact, sometimes we catch ourselves just scrolling through Pinterest, browsing all the beautiful images of dream office supply solutions.) However, while being well-stocked with necessities at work is convenient – and even fun – it can lead to one frustrating challenge: stolen office supplies.
Most of the time, employees stealing supplies have no true bad intentions; they figure the company is so well-stocked, they won’t miss a pen here or a stapler there. However, employee theft can have a bigger impact than you might imagine: according to a recent survey by Kessler International, more than 95% of employees steal from their employers in some way – and the National Retail Federation reports that worker theft cost retailers more than $32 billion last year.
Tips for Avoiding Stolen Office Supplies
If you want to make sure stolen office supplies don’t end up having a financial and psychological impact on your company, the following ideas can help discourage workers from stealing office supplies – and create an atmosphere of honesty and trust.
- Create office supply lists and policies.
Sometimes, employee theft is caused by the simple fact that workers don’t know what is official company property. Create a list of all of the supplies that are technically bought and owned by your business: pens, pencils, paper clips, printer paper, etc. (If there is an item that is free for workers to take, you can leave that off the list.) Then, share a clear, concise policy about what office supply theft means; for example, “Office supplies removed from the workplace and used at home are considered stolen office supplies.” If you offer open access to supplies, post the policy on the wall of the supply cabinet or closet as a reminder.
- Only allow an office manager to access supplies.
One good way to make sure employees are not stealing office supplies is to limit their access to them. Put your office manager in charge of your office supply stock in a cabinet or closet that is locked. That way, one person can oversee what is coming and going.
- Do a periodic supply audit.
Office supplies get used up quickly, and it can be hard to keep track of what you have and what you’re missing. To make sure that supplies aren’t being used TOO quickly, do a periodic audit to make sure you’re not spending too much on supplies – and too often. Try to set a supply budget per employee, then see if you’re sticking to this number. A supply audit you a good sense of whether people are being honest with their usage habits or not. If you feel you’re spending too much, consider shifting your distribution policies.
- Punish for theft appropriately.
Nobody wants their employees to get in trouble, but to discourage theft (of any kind) at work, it’s important that appropriate punishments are given for stealing. If someone is caught stealing office supplies, and they’ve violated a workplace policy, try to find a fitting reprimand or punishment; for example, you may ask the employee to pay you back for the materials they took. Showing that there are repercussions for taking supplies is one of the best ways to discourage it.
If you need help stocking your supply closet (just like those Pinterest closets above), Vesper can help. We can get you all of the supplies you need – within your budget – so your employees can do their very best work.