Third of managers have fired workers for stealing

Aug 23 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

More than a third of recruiting managers in America say they have been forced to fire workers for stealing, a new poll has revealed.

A survey by found that one in ten workers admitted to being light fingered from time to time at work.

Yet 38 per cent of hiring managers said they had fired an employee for office theft, the poll of more than 2,200 workers and 1,000 hiring managers has found.

Office supplies topped the list of items most likely to be pilfered, with 15 per cent of hiring managers stating employees were most often caught red-handed with these items.

Money came in second at 14 per cent and was merchandise placed third at 11 per cent.

Break rooms, co-workers' cubicles and even the first aid kit were also popular targets for office thieves.

Other common items to go missing included co-workers' belongings, computer or phone equipment, office decor (including paintings and plants), coffee packets, tea bags and condiments, toilet paper, plasters and, most worrying of all, confidential files.

Another popular "theft" was faxing or shipping services for personal use.

Comparing various industries, healthcare, IT and manufacturing had the highest amount of workers owning up to engaging in office theft, while retail, sales and hospitality had the lowest.

The sanctions used by companies against office thieves varied widely, the poll discovered.

Although 45 per cent of hiring managers said they would automatically fire someone for stealing from the company, 48 per cent said it would depend on the object and situation.

A total of seven per cent said they would not fire the culprit.

"Whether it is worker dissatisfaction, a sense of entitlement, the thrill of the steal or some other reason, this behaviour communicates a lack of shared values with the company," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at

"Companies need to establish clear guidelines for employees and take proper measures if employee trust is violated," she added.