A new poll has revealed the cost of employee theft to British businesses, as well as personal theft between colleagues. Two thirds of UK office-based employees confessed that they had stolen from their workplace, with 11 per cent of these revealing that they had stolen personal items from colleagues.
Initially, all respondents were asked ‘Have you ever stolen anything from your office?’ to which more than two thirds of respondents, 67 per cent, admitted that ‘yes’ they had.
All those that had stolen items from the office (not including personal items from colleagues) were asked to state how much they felt their theft cost their workplace, per year, to which the average answer was £12.50 (based on the total value of items they’d taken).
Considering that, according to the Office of National Statistics, 22.74 million people are likely to be employed in office or desk-based jobs in the UK, this would equate to more than 15 million workers stealing from their workplaces. Taking the average cost as £12.50 per person annually, this generates a yearly cost to British business of at least £190,422,375.
Of those who admitted they had stolen personal items from a colleague’s desk, 41 per cent admitted to doing so because they’d been arguing with the person in question, whilst a further 11% admitted they’d stolen from a colleague because they were jealous of them.
When asked to estimate the value of the personal items that they’d taken from their colleagues per year, the average amount was revealed to be £7.50 per person. Using the above figures, this suggests that over 1.6 million colleagues are stealing from each other to the tune of over £12.5 million per year.
Never been caught
According to the results, 73 per cent of respondents said that they’d never been caught stealing from the office. Of the 27 per cent who admitted they had been caught stealing, 51 per cent admitted that they got away with it without penalisation or discipline, 36 per cent admitted they’d received a warning and the remaining 13 per cent confessed that they lost their job due to the theft.
Gareth Jones, Digital Marketing Manager for Kit Out My Office, who commissioned the research commented: “It’s a real surprise to see how much a few pens and toilet rolls here and there add up. It may seem harmless, but this equates to tens of millions of pounds per year and is clearly a very real threat for UK companies. Equally, the thought of more than 2 million people in the UK stealing from their workmates beggars believe; especially as this results in millions of pounds of theft every year! No wonder people in offices all over the country write their names all over their belongings – and lunches! It would be interesting to find out how much of the personal theft is food related!”