a year or so I try to write something about internal theft. Last year
by accident I did it on Valentine's Day. I'm sure there is something
very Freudian there so I vowed to never make that mistake again.
Like many things in life, internal theft is not an enjoyable topic but one that's important to talk about. If you'd rather skip this topic then just delete this email and I'll talk with you next week about the 25 Keys to Having a Stress-Free Holiday.
Please don't take offense that the manager or owner asked you to read this newsletter. According to the National Retail Federation's annual Retail Security Survey, nearly 50% of the $41.6 billion dollars lost by retailers was from employee theft. The exact loss for 2006 was $19.5 billion. Yikes.
But why do this right before the holidays you ask? With the influx of seasonal employees and the added pressures on all us during the holidays, it's just a good time to have our annual discussion on this touchy subject. And afterwards we can move on enjoy the season.
Now I don't know about you, but whenever I worked in a store and we discussed internal theft I almost always got worked up. Either I was mad because I felt I was being accused of something or I was ready to confess to taking the pencil home by accident.
Whenever I do bring this topic up it seems everyone always says they've never done it and most people will even say they've never even thought about stealing something. I'm not sure I completely believe them but who am I to say different.
Here's the deal. Stealing anything from work is about the stupidest thing we could ever do.
I think it's human nature for us to consider doing something we know we shouldn't do. I can't be the only person in the world who has had those arguments between the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other! Okay, I've been watching too many old cartoons but throughout my years in retail from time to time the thought would occasionally occur to me that maybe I could "borrow" something from the store. Of course I didn't consider it stealing because I wasn't that type of person.
And 99.9% of the time I'm not that type of person. But when I was tired or felt underappreciated by my manager or was thinking I was underpaid, these thoughts entered my mind. It happens. Luckily for me I would either think through the consequences or hear the voice inside of one of my parents or grandparents and that would stop the dangerous thinking.
The sad fact is that I've met a lot of people who didn't think through those consequences or listen to any voices inside them telling them to stop. I've seen lives shattered because of one wrong decision at work. I've shared with my Daily Retail Experience readers about having to fire a favorite cashier as well as employees I had become quite friendly with.
There was the store manager I knew who was arrested and taken out of the store in handcuffs in full view of his staff. Company representatives and the police went to his home and confiscated the stolen products. Those stolen products included jewelry he had given his wife, toys he had given his son, clothing he had worn, and other items used in the home. Unfortunately, I could go on and on about the details of people I know whose lives were negatively impacted because of a bad choice.
Last year when I wrote about this topic in my Daily I got an email from a reader who shared that he/she had been stealing from the company he/she worked at for a long time. He/she started out taking small things and over time seemed to do it more and more. They don't know why. The person shared how embarrassed and ashamed they were, and worried about what would happen if they got caught. Something they should be worried about.
If you're one of those people who have never had the urge to help yourself when an opportunity presents itself, my hat is off to you. Keep it up and I hope the temptation never arises.
If you're like a lot of people in retail who on that rare occasion has a fleeting thought about doing something they know they shouldn't do, don't be concerned. It's nothing but a fleeting thought. Let it go and be thankful you didn't cross over that line. There's a high price to pay if you do.
And if you're someone who has crossed that line, don't do it again. There's not a thing in the store or any amount of money worth what you will experience if you get caught. Your life will be forever altered if you're caught. And trust me, there's a good chance you will be caught.
The reader who sent me the email about currently stealing in their store ended by saying this, "I was once an honest person and I don't know how that changed but I'm determined to change back."
I don't know if that person still receives our Daily newsletter or not. I hope they do, and I hope they changed. With internal theft we rarely get a second chance from the company but we can always give ourselves another chance so we never have to worry about it again.
Lest we never forget that the holiday is for giving and receiving, not taking.
This concludes this bummer of a topic. Have a great week.