Retailers Paying Employees to Rob Them
Commentary by Laurie Cozart, CPC, CEO/Co-founder, TeamSpringboard (http://www.teamspringboard.net/)
If you are like most retailers, you hire teens transitioning from the schoolyard to the workforce believing this will keep your costs low and your profits high.
The troubling reality of this practice is it often means businesses are putting the responsibility for achieving profits in the hands of under-trained and, all too often, unethical employees.
A survey of nearly 25,000 high school students by the Josephson Institute of Ethics found 62 percent admitted to cheating on an exam in the past year with 38 percent saying they had done it more than once.
Twenty-seven percent of the students admitted to shoplifting in the previous 12 months while 22 percent said they stole from a family member and 18 percent admitted stealing something from a friend.
The truly troubling aspect of the Josephson research is that the teens do not have a problem with their behavior. Most seem to have the misplaced notion that ethics have no place in the academic or working world. Some honestly believe if they lie, cheat and break the rules, they are more likely to succeed. In fact, 59 percent (66 percent of boys and 52 percent of girls) agreed with the statement “in the real world, successful people do what they have to do to win, even if others consider it cheating.”
Moving these students to the workplace means, in many cases, profits are quite literally walking right out the store door.
In a survey, our firm, TeamSpringboard, conducted with 500 young adult employees within a juniors clothing retailer, 41 percent admitted to stealing from their employer.
Thirty percent said they had given away merchandise to friends or family members, 35 percent stole for personal gain of either money or merchandise, 10 percent gave unauthorized discounts and 25 percent admitted to charging back their own credit cards using false refunds. Forty percent said they had lied about their education and experience to obtain employment, compete for a promotion or negotiate a raise.
So what can retailers do to keep more of their profits and their teen and young adult workforce at the same time?
The answer is ethics training and workplace skills development. Unfortunately, most retailers do not spend nearly enough time training new hires, with two to three days being the norm. The same is true even for managers. Eighty-five percent of small businesses that hire young adults put them in supervisory positions.
So with only two days of training a new manager is put in charge of customer service, sales, money transactions, inventory and, most alarmingly, the mentoring and supervision of other young adults. Does this seem reasonable?
Savvy employers are realizing the need to allocate more of their budgets to on-board training. Studies show increased job training can increase productivity by 22 percent. A truly comprehensive training approach that includes developing jobs skills, workplace ethics and behavior management supported by continued coaching increases productivity by 88 percent.
Many retailers do not believe they have the resources, human or financial, to do the type of training described. It’s clear they can’t afford training as usual. Studies show that ethics and skills training improve morale and confidence. Keeping your employees honest, productive and living the company vision has dramatic effects on your bottom line. The money spent on training is returned three fold with increased sales through increased productivity, decreased employee fraud, reduced absenteeism, improved communication and less employee turnover.
Moderator’s Comment: In your experience, do most retailers realize how much their employee training programs are costing them at store-level? Are there
any retailers with new employee and on-going training programs you would hold up as a model for others to emulate? –
Laurie Cozart – Moderator