Stolen burger costs more than 79 cents!

If an employee of a fast-food chain gives a friend a free hamburger for 79 cents on the sly, it costs the company 79 cents, right? wrong. It costs about $10.27.

"That 79 cents has to be made up out of profits," explains Carl Klump, designer of the Stanton Corporation "honesty test." "So if there's a 6-cent profit on each hamburger, the company has to sell 13 hamburgers to make the 79 cents." The cost of the 13 hamburgers is $10.27. Up to 15 percent of the price of consumer goods goes to pay for on-the-job theft, according to some estimates.

Employee theft, even to a small degree, whittles away at company profits and has even "stolen companies out of business," according to Mr. Klump.

In addition to a preemployment screening test, he has designed a method for quizzing current, in-housem employees to find the source of personnel, production , or management problems such as low morale, drug and alcohol use on the job, and "shrinkage" -- i.e., theft.

One company came to Klump with the problem of disappearing spark plugs. There had not been a break-in, so the theft problem had to have come from within. The Stanton Inventory test was given to the company's 40 employees.

"Thirty-nine out of the 40 people admitted to stealing something from the company," Klump says. "Eighteen admitted stealing spark plugs occasionally. Eight knew that 'Joe' was stealing cartons of them. Three of them helped Joe." Case solved.

The test results cannot be used as evidence in court, but are for the employer's information only. When confronted, Klump says, most culprits either confess or quit the job.

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