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Employee Statistics

Report Highlights:

  • In Australia, 25% of retail shrinkage is attributed towards employee theft.
  • Globally, employee theft costs $48.12 billion in revenue loss.
  • In 2018, the Australian retail sector lost $750 million in revenue.
  • 55% of stock shrinkage in Australia is a result of employee theft.
  • Around 80% of Australian employees have considered engaging in employee theft.

employee statistics

Employee theft isn’t given as much prominence it deserves. In reality, this is a much more widespread issue than many people realize. This type of crime costs businesses an enormous amount of money every year and continues to be a major concern for all industries.

Such theft can also cause other issues within a company. It can lead to a reduction in payroll or increase in product or services prices. Employee theft may also have a snowball effect, leading to other workplace crimes as well.

Also read: Welfare statistics and Credit card statistics.

Global Employee Theft Statistics

Employee theft is a global issue, impacting countries and economies around the world. This results in a phenomenon known as retail shrinkage. It occurs across multiple retail sectors, causing billions of dollars in revenue loss.

  • Employee theft accounted for 39% of total shrinkage.
  • Employee theft increased by 11 percentage points within a year.
  • This resulted in a $48.12 billion loss.
  • In the US, 45% of the shrinkage was due to employee theft, costing the retail industry $16.56 billion.
  • Norway had the lowest shrinkage rate at 0.75%, but 30% was a result of employee theft.
  • Argentina had the lowest shrinkage rate in Latin America – 1% – but 90% was due to employee theft.
Region Shrinkage by Share Shrinkage by Value ($)
Europe 25% 10.22 billion
North America 45% 16.56 billion
Asia Pacific 22% 8.59 billion
Latin America 31% 3.35 billion

Employee Theft Statistics in Australia

At one point, Australia had the second highest rate of employee theft in the world. While the numbers have decreased, workplace theft has resulted in a significant amount of loss across the board.

  • Employee theft was responsible for 25% of retail shrinkage.
  • In 2018, it was estimated that 70% of workplace fraud was at the hand of current or former employees.
  • In 2018, of the $3 billion in retail shrinkage, $750 million was attributed to employee theft.
  • Employee theft results in $1.5 billion in lost revenue each year.
  • 55% of stock shrinkage is linked to employee theft.
  • Around 80% of employees have thought about or committed theft from their workplace.

Employee Theft by Industry

Employee theft occurs across all sectors. Nevertheless, some industries are prone to this type of organisational crime than others. Those engaged in retail industries are most likely to have to contend with employee theft.

  • APAC had the lowest apparel specialist retailer employee thefts at just 11%.
  • In Latin America, 75% of retail shrinkage in jewellery stores was attributed to employee theft.
  • In North America, 81% of non-grocery retailers experienced shrinkage due to employee theft.
  • In Europe, 40% percentage of shrinkage was a result of employee theft.
Region Apparel Specialist Retailer Department/Convenience Stores Jewellery Stores Home Improvement/Gardening Stores
North America 44% 71% 41% 28%
Europe 24% 40% 20% 23%
Latin America 40% 25% 75% 30%
APAC 11% 23% 20%

Employee vs. Customer Theft Statistics

Apart from employee theft, customer theft or shoplifting is one of the biggest reasons for revenue loss for companies around the globe. Combined, they make up the majority of why various sectors lose billions each year.

  • Combined, employee theft and shoplifting accounted for 77% of total shrinkage.
  • These two factors caused $95.01 billion in losses.
  • Globally, shoplifting was responsible for 38% of the shrinkage rate, causing $46.9 billion in losses.
  • Retailers tracked 88% of shrinkage caused by shoplifting.
  • In the Asia Pacific, 51% of the shrinkage was attributed to shoplifting, resulting in a $19.95 billion loss.
  • In North America, shoplifting contributed to 36% of shrinkage, but caused $13.2 billion in losses.
Region Shrinkage by Share Shrinkage by Value ($)
Europe 42% 17.17 billion
North America 36% 13.24 billion
APAC 51% 19.91 billion
Australia 39% 0.95 billion
Latin America 37% 4 billion

Tracking Global Employee Theft

It is just as interesting to discover how employee theft is tracked by employers and retailers. This provides insight into how common employees imagine the problem to be as well as their opinions of this phenomenon.

  • 87% of retailers kept track of global employee theft
  • 81% of European retailers kept track of employee theft.
  • 100% of retailers in America kept track of employee theft.
  • 90% of APAC retailers kept track of employee theft.
  • 90% of employee theft was tracked by Latin American retailers.

Motives for Employee Theft

Of course, what most employers are curious about is why employee theft occurs in the first place. The reasons for workplace theft can be rather varied. The causes range from personal to poor workplace environments.

  • 40% of employees engaged in workplace theft have previously had HR issues.
  • 13% of fraudsters acted out of fear of potential job loss.
  • Negative performance reviews resulted in a 14% increase of employee theft.
  • Around 59% of employee theft takes place in industries that are more likely to experience general theft.

Loss Prevention Statistics

Considering the state of employee theft, it makes sense for companies to gear themselves against this type of theft. Industries have taken various preventative methods and techniques to help reduce shrinkage across the board.

  • Currently, around 2.23% of employees are actively engaged in loss prevention.
  • 69% of organisations are incentivising loss prevention.
  • Between 1% and 1.49% of sales are contributed to loss prevention methodologies.
  • 50% of RFID technology is used against loss prevention.
  • Australia engaged in the lowest loss prevention spend, contributing just 0.76% of total sales.
  • Almost a 100% of Australian businesses reported using CCTV.
  • 79% of Australian businesses use alarm monitoring systems to prevent theft.

It is clear that employee theft has been and continues to be a rather significant issue among Australian businesses. The continuation in workplace theft is resulting in revenue losses of billions of dollars, impacting both employers and employees.

While Australia doesn’t hold the record for the highest amount of employee theft, it does rank rather high. At one point, the region experienced the second highest rate of workplace theft in the world. While the situation has improved, it has been far from eradicated.

Australia does appear to have some ways to go to reduce the issue as well. Despite experiencing a high level of employee theft, businesses have only contributed a small portion of earnings against loss prevention. At the same time, most businesses have made an effort to utilise some tactics such as CCTV.


[1] Global Theft Barometer

[2] iHR Australia, The Enemy Within: Dealing with Employee Theft

[3] NSW Crime Prevention, An Overview of Retail Crime in Australia

[4] HRM, Workplace Theft is Costing Billions

[5] Small Biz Daily, Theft in the Workplace: What Happens When an Employee Breaks the Law

[6] News.com.au, From Freebies for Mates to $150,000 Fraud, Employee Theft Costs Australian Businesses Billions

[7] JCK, Winning the Battle Against Internal Theft

[8] SHRM, Why is Workplace Theft on the Rise?

[9] University of Cincinatti, A View from the Top: Managers Perspectives on the Problem of Employee Theft in Small Businesses

[10] Sensormatic Global Shrink Index

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