Retailers are often aware to look out for customers that are stealing for them, but what if they were your own employees?

Research commission by ADT Security has revealed almost half (43 per cent) of small business employees admit they or their colleagues provide discount or freebies to friends and family.

ADT Security managing director Mark Norton said the advantages over employee theft in small businesses are that owners can oversee every contract or payment.

“The financial losses due to employee theft and fraud can be devastating, with our research suggesting that 43 per cent of small business owners estimate their losses from crime total up to $10,000 annually,” he said.

The survey of 500 small business employees and 500 small business owners across Australia also found that the younger the employee, the more likely they were to engage in ‘sweet-hearting’, with 49 per cent of Generation Y and 45 per cent of Generation X admitting to the practice, compared to just 30 per cent of Baby Boomers.

Furthermore, women (42 per cent) were just as likely as men (44 per cent) to provide discounts or freebies to friends or family.

“Business owners can help minimise the risk of employee theft by performing regular and spot audits of stock and finances, rotating staff through different jobs, creating a positive workplace environment and showing they value their employees,” Norton said.

“We would also recommend they implement a comprehensive security plan which identifies security threats and trouble-shoots potential weaknesses, as well as installing physical security measures such as intruder alarms and monitored video surveillance.”