Optometric Management Tip # 436   -   Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Employee Theft

I'll bet this title got your attention and rightfully so. I think all practice owners and managers are aware that theft by employees most likely occurs in every practice, including their own. But how do you know how prevalent it is? And what can you do to prevent it?

What can be stolen?
Employee theft can occur in many ways; some not so obvious. The first step in preventing theft is to assume it is probably occurring in your practice to some degree already. To some extent, it is a cost of doing business, but I believe employers should make a strong effort to prevent theft before it becomes a major problem.

Consider if your practice is vulnerable in the following areas:

In many cases, the techniques that are used for detection of theft are also a deterrent to theft. People don't want to be caught. If employees realize that management is aware and monitoring operations, theft is too risky.

Once you know
If you are certain that embezzlement has occurred, I would discuss the matter with an attorney familiar with employment law before taking any action. Accusing someone of theft and firing him or her over it can lead to more legal problems, especially if you can't prove it.

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management