I don’t mean random customers stealing a shirt; I mean an employee stealing your money?

The embezzler is probably not who you’d think they are. I know I was surprised to read that on average they are primarily women, around the age of 47 and have worked for you between 1-5 years. Also, approximately 41.5% of perpetrators worked in the accounting and finance department – just the people you need and want to trust the most. They will also seem like your most dedicated employees, wanting to understand how everything works, details on procedures and who has access to what information and systems.

The median loss per embezzlement is $145,000, but for companies with less than 100 employees the median jumps to $155,000. Larger companies typically have various departments, so one person doesn’t touch a transaction from beginning to end.

There are simple ways they can steal. Using the corporate credit card or corporate business accounts to purchase personal items while purchasing items for work. Then moving to using the credit card to purchase items just for them or paying for meals and entertainment.

Then they may move onto setting up new “vendors” so they can create fake invoices and pay those invoices (to themselves). Some embezzlers may go so far as to setup a fake employee or add overtime to their pay.

This does not mean that you can’t have employees or that you have to perform all tasks yourself. There are ways to protect yourself. First step is to do a background check on all employees, including a credit check for people working in sales, accounting and finance. This would give you an idea of how over leveraged they are in their personal life.

Once you actually hire the employee it’s important to segregate duties, keeping key areas away from one singular person. For example, your accounts payable person should not be able to set up a new vendor, enter and approve invoices in your system, cut checks and sign them. It’s important to keep a couple of these areas separate. For really small companies, it could be as simple as you signing the check – you know what vendors you use and approximate how much you’ve spent with them. For larger companies, you may need the individual who requested the item be purchased to sign off on the invoice stating they received everything they ordered and this invoice is “O.K.” to pay.

Don’t be afraid to question a vendor you haven’t seen before.

Don’t be afraid to question charges on a credit card statement or expense report.

If you ask very casually and simply, then an honest employee should not appear nervous to answer at all. Now, keep in mind, if you start acting like you’re interrogating any employee, whether they are guilty or not, they may appear nervous, so be aware of your tone when speaking to your employees.

On a monthly basis, while reviewing your P&L statements, review expense categories that suddenly jump up, like office supplies doubling or meals and entertainment expenses are totally out of whack, landscaping expenses seem extremely high and you didn’t have any additional work completed. This will help with any expenses that an embezzler is trying to hide. It will also help you with expense control if suddenly you’re spending more money or perhaps vendors raised prices without your knowledge.

Lastly, make sure all your employees take vacation time. And I’m not talking about one day here and there, but a week or two. If employees seem afraid to take vacation they could be hiding something and could be afraid that they aren’t there to hide expenses or invoices that come through while they are gone. Kind of like me always wanting to be home on delivery days when my packages show up.

Splitting up duties to protect yourself isn’t difficult. And fear of embezzlement shouldn’t keep you from hiring employees you need to grow your business. Background check, segregation of duties, vacation time and frankly, following your gut will help keep your business safe. Of course, if you want a second opinion, ask your fellow small business owners, your accountant or a small business consultant to help evaluate your vulnerabilities.


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There are so many difference social media platforms and most, if not all, of your employees probably engage in some form of social media. Many employers don’t have a social media policy for their employees’ personal accounts. It’s important to put one into place BEFORE someone posts something that doesn’t represent your brand in a positive light.

The policy should be a straight forward, simply to follow social media policy for both you and your employee. The policy safeguards you by protecting your company’s reputation and values. The policy will also protect your employees by telling them upfront what is expected of them.

Every company is different and therefore there is no right way to write a policy. You must ask yourself many questions.

Do you want your employees to post on their personal social media on your company’s behalf?

Do you want your employees to state they work at your company in their bio?

If you allow them to state they work at ABC Corporation, then it could look like their thoughts are thoughts of the company. Therefore, do you want them to post a disclaimer about their own thoughts are not necessarily the thoughts of the company?

Do you want your employees to be “friends” with your clients or vendors on social media?

Along with the above answers, you should state that their posts should honor your employee handbook, such as your discrimination & harassment prevention policy, disclosure of company’s private information and following all laws. They should never disparage the company or the company’s products.

It’s also acceptable to state, that employees that don’t follow the social media policy may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Now you can write up a policy. It’s important that it’s short and easy to follow otherwise it’ll make it very hard for your employees to follow and also hard for you to enforce it.

If you have any questions or need help with writing this policy or your overall employee handbook, please send me message via my Facebook or Twitter page or by emailing me at solutions@CreativeBiznessSolutions.com.

There are also some great resources online to help you think through your policy, see links below.


How to Write a Social Media Policy for Your Company

Hate hiring new employees? Not sure what questions to ask to ensure the candidate will be a good fit for your company? I’ve been interviewing and hiring employees for over 20 years in entry level, supervisory and director positions. What I’ve learned is that past jobs don’t equate to success to a new job. Behaviors, skills and attitudes do. Of course, if you’re hiring a doctor or a pilot, then they need very specific training, but for the rest of us it may be more important to focus on attitudes towards teamwork, the ability to think critically and adapt to change.

What is behavioral interviewing? The concept that past behaviors and outcomes are a more accurate prediction of future outcomes. It’s more than just asking open ended questions, it’s about investigating to determine someone’s mindset.

First, be sure that you understand what you’re looking for in a new employee. What are the required duties? Is there a base educational or previous work experience requirement? What attitudes or skills are necessary? What knowledge does an employee already need to have versus what can you, and are you, willing to teach them?

Second, write open ended questions in advance that require a candidate to explain a situation, what action they took and what the outcome was. This is important to keep you on track and make sure you cover all aspects of the job you’re hiring for such as customer service, decision making, prioritization of duties. It’s also important as you interview multiple people to ensure you are comparing the candidates based on the same set of questions.

When a candidate comes in for the interview, introduce yourself and your title. Ask a few questions about their job history perhaps gaps in employment or reasons for leaving. Do not start giving to much information about the company or the job they are interviewing for – you will very likely give them clues on how you want them to answer the interview questions.

For example, if you say we pride ourselves on customer service and getting back to our customers within 8 business hours and then ask a question on customer service and how they best communicate, if they were paying attention, they most likely will echo you back.

To warm up the interview, ask the candidate what attracted them to the company or the particular job. Share with them, how long you’ve been at the company and what your overall responsibilities are. Don’t go over the job description, they should have done their homework in advance if they really want the job.

Then begin asking your questions. Below are a few examples.

Initiative: Describe a time when you were unmotivated to get a job done. How did you complete the project?

Teamwork: Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. Why was this person difficult? How did you handle interactions with that person?

Planning and organization: Describe a time at work where you had to juggle several projects at the same time. How did you organize your time?

Customer service: Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or client. Were you able to retain their business?

Adaptability / problem solving: Recall a time from your work experience when your manager or supervisor was unavailable when a problem arose. What was the nature of the problem? How did you handle that situation? How did that make you feel?

Make sure you take notes while the candidate is talking. What action did the candidate take? How did they handle the situation? Did they achieve the outcome they wanted? If the outcome wasn’t what they hoped it would be, then follow up with what they learned from that experience and what they would change in the future.

One of my favorite questions and typically the one I ask last is, what do you expect from your manager? The answer is really based on you or whoever the candidate will be reporting to. If you’re hiring for a micro manager, then don’t hire someone that thrives on autonomy. On the other hand, if you have a macro manager that is there to simply support and randomly check-in, don’t hire someone that needs a lot of guidance or encouragement.

Towards the end of the interview you can either give more information about the company and the job or simply ask the candidate what questions they have and see if they are interested or if they did any homework before the interview.

In my experience, you can teach employees how to perform the job you are hiring them for. You cannot however change their work ethic or their ability to learn and change. Questions? Contact me at sharice@CreativeBiznessSolutions.com.