A long time ago I was told two things about fraud theft and deception. Firstly for ordinary people to steal or deceive they must have a perceived Need, see an Opportunity, think that the Risk is low so they won't get caught and have Mitigated things by concocting an excuse that relieves them of any blame. Secondly everyone lies and steals at some level, it's controlling that level that counts.
The personal examples that stick in my mind came from a retail sales manager and a building contractor. The shopkeeper maintained that their workers needed to understand the difference between taking a loose grape from the bottom of a box and actually pulling a grape from an undamaged bunch. The builder took the view that if there are five bags of cement left over from a job and one goes missing it's an unfortunate fact of life. If two go missing you're being robbed. Leaving the philosophical arguments and any matters of trust to one side, I have found that, in most small businesses, they key to controlling the mis-use of company property is maximising education and minimising temptation.
The education side of things should focus on mindset. "Just this once..." isn't a valid excuse and the personal use of postage stamps, printing paper, writing pads, pens and paperclips is not some sort of open-ended perk, it's stealing! The message needs to be I trust you not to steal from the company, please don't let me down.
From a temptation standpoint I suggest using office supplies to set tone because it's easy to implement some low-level controls (controls suggests concern and vigilance). Think about a lock for the supply cabinet and asking people to sign for the supplies they are taking.
The underlying message needs to be that if the business sees taking a paperclip as dishonest what will they do if someone helps themselves to the petty-cash?
On a more formal basis every company should set out in writing, as part of it's employee contract, exactly what it's attitude to the theft and mis-use of company property is and how it will be handled.
All of this may seem heavy handed in small 'family' type organisations but for anything bigger 'shrinkage' can have a real impact on profits.
Hopefully this blog provide some insight into what we offer, provide inspiration for you to build the website you have always wanted and help with developing your business generally.