Ken Burgin

Petty Theft – Where Do You Draw the Line With These ‘Grey Areas’?

Ever seen staff help themselves to food, drink or even cash, and they seem to think it’s OK?

You call it shrinkage, waste, ‘unders’, discrepancies or theft. What do they call it?

It’s the grey areas that cause problems: drinks or food for friends and family, sloppy work that results in waste, or taking home left-overs. Grey has to become black or white. Does the culture you’ve created reward honesty, or overlook those who break the rules? Do the consequences encourage the behaviour you desire…or the opposite?

Don’t beat around the bush – make it clear what’s not acceptable. And let’s tell the truth – sometimes it’s the boss’s shortcuts or bad example that encourages staff to make the wrong choice.

What would your ruling be on these situations?

  • Free drinks or meals for friends or family who come to visit.
  • Special prices for staff visiting from other hotels, cafes or clubs.
  • Staff drinks at the end of the night that go one more than the rules allow.
  • Sloppy writing up of the Stock-transfer Book so the stocktake makes no sense and is disregarded – again.
  • Cook allows something to burn because she won’t get properly organised.
  • Beer lines contaminated and keg wasted because cleaning procedures not properly followed.
  • Using the computer at work to write up your resume to apply for another job.
  • Using the ‘Open Key’ on the Point of Sale because it’s easier. As a result sales count figures at the end of the week are invalid and stock usage can’t be checked.
  • ‘I’m just putting the money in the till while we’re busy – I’ll ring it all up later’.
  • A staff member says ‘I won’t charge you for that because I know the service you got wasn’t very good’. A better tip follows
  • Kitchen worker asks the bar ‘can I have some beer for my buddies in the kitchen?’
  • The Till is ‘over’ – so it must have been a tip that we forgot to take out.
  • Employee over-states hours or changes times because the hard work she’s been doing is going unrecognised.
  • Signing for lesser quality meat or produce and ‘we’ll fix it up on the invoice next time’ – which we forget to do.
  • Personal phone calls received or made in work time.
  • Keeping free samples from vendors eg food samples, bottles of wine or liquor.
  • Serving adults at junior or senior prices ‘because they can’t afford it’.
  • Chefs or bar managers expecting personal gifts from suppliers to secure an account.

What needs to tighten up?

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