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The True Cost of Office Supply Theft

March 6, 2019

The office supply cabinet is a double-edged sword of bounty and betrayal. It holds pencils, paper clips and legal pads— the basic stuff employees need to stay productive at work. And for most people, pocketing a few “extras” for personal use, such as push pens or No. 10 envelops, doesn’t feel wrong. So, is it?  

Here’s the problem. Those small things add up to billions in losses for businesses. In one Harris interactive survey, 58 percent of employees admitted to taking home office supplies from their workplaces. Other research studies put that number closer to 75 percent. Keep in mind, the majority of supplies people take are relatively inexpensive. The most popular items are pens and pencils, self-adhesive sticky notes and paper clips. Less common are larger items such as, believe it or not, office chairs. Then there are employees who don’t mean to thieve — they just forget to bring back what they took home. But for others, underlying drivers influence why they swipe stuff.  

Employees who don’t feel like they’re getting a fair shake in the workplace often take supplies as a means of settling the score. For instance, someone might start by coming into the office a bit later, or leave earlier and take long lunches. They might rack up a lot of sick time. But all of that is really just because they dread coming into the office. The last step is pilfering the office supply cabinet to stockpile notepads and pens, whether they even need or want them or not. It just feels right to do it. Some employees retaliate because of lean economic times, lack of raises and promotions, fear of layoffs and general tiffs with their boss.

As a business owner, how do you safeguard against office theft? Many companies, including Facebook and HP have turned to IVM Smart Stations® and lockers as a way to keep track of office supplies and cut down on the costs associated with missing items.

Smart Stations and Lockers keep items secure by allowing employees to swipe a key pad with their badge 24/7 and get what they need. Whether that’s personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles or IT computers and office supplies, smart vending becomes so much a part of company culture people wonder what they did without it. Smart vending also handles all of the back-office inventory reporting.

Otherwise, businesses have to audit supplies on a regular basis, analyze trends and look for spikes that indicate an increased supply cost with no reasonable explanation. The old way of keeping track of inventory is simply an era that has come to an end. Supply closets (unless they’re locked, which sends the wrong message) only encourage bad behavior and hard feelings.

Vending supplies solves the office-supply theft problem, empowers employees to spend their time how they want to — coming up with big ideas that drive businesses forward.  And, it lends a cool vibe to the office.

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