Pressure on bottom lines, intense competition and long working hours are part and parcel of what it takes to succeed in any business today.
What companies do not have to accept, though, is additional financial pressure caused by dishonest employees - a phenomenon that is undermining the overall profits of South African companies and organisations, according to Francois Smuts, product manager of Elvey Security Technologies' closed circuit television (CCTV) division.
"It is tough enough to make it in business without your employees ripping you off," he says, referring to staff members who help themselves to money and merchandise as liabilities. These, he says, are hidden, expensive partners who can - and do - take businesses into bankruptcy. "We regularly encounter people with little in the way of ethics or morals who steal from their employers without any guilt or sense of wrong-doing," says Smuts.
Referring to the findings of Elvey's most recent trend study on dishonest employees, Smuts says people find reasons to justify stealing. These include feeling that they are underpaid, unrecognised, unappreciated or even exploited. "Whatever the reason, they convince themselves that they are entitled to a share of the spoils."
Apart from amoral staff members, there are also those whose drug or alcohol problems could put their companies at risk, he adds. "The pay cheques of people with uncontrolled addictions will never be big enough so it is a good idea for management always to be on the alert for the telltale signs of an addict." According to Smuts, these signs include frequent sickness, lying, lateness, absenteeism and a generally shabby or unkempt appearance.
Monitoring lies at the heart of combating employee dishonesty, says Smuts, whose experience in this field spans 18 years. "There are many ways to monitor your employees with today's evolving security technology, the best and most accurate of which is video surveillance in the form of remote video management systems."
Today's top-of-the-range systems allow for staff monitoring at any given time, unlike traditional video surveillance systems that recorded their surrounds solidly without a break. "There is no longer any need to go through hours of video footage if everything you need to know is being sent to you as it happens via a smart video management system that only records footage of pre-assigned events," says Kenny Chiu, marketing manager of Elvey Security Technologies. "Business owners do not want to spend hours looking through video footage and now it is possible for them to receive video e-mails of events in realtime," he added. "With the latest in video technology, business owners have the freedom to simply login and view what is happening on their premises via camera at any time of the day or night, and wherever they are in the country or world."
Being able to preset a camera to take pictures at given times and then having the images sent immediately to an e-mail address or cellphone, is just one of the many innovative aspects of today's technology, continues Chiu. "The capabilities of these systems go far beyond video alarm verification. One example is that businesses can now reduce their onsite guard requirements through automatically scheduled video guard tours, with huge cost savings.
"Another great application is the availability of 'open/close' video reports which allows owners to see who opened and closed the business, whether anyone was with them and if they carried anything away with them when they left."
For Chiu, there is no doubt that digital technology and video streaming have enabled businesses to move into an era where they are able to conduct comprehensive video surveillance and store the resulting evidence indefinitely.
This, he says, can create an environment of awareness which will play a significant role in deterring dishonesty since staff will be aware of the very real risk of getting caught stealing. "It will also provide companies with the necessary proof to take action against dishonest employees," he concludes.
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