New Art of Employee Theft

August 3, 2022

As noted in SDC’s article “Youth of Employee Theft”, there is a trend of young professionals engaging in employee theft. Another recent trend, or rather an old trend making a comeback, is bartering. Unlike in the past where farmers bartered their own goods, employees now barter their employers’ products and services. Employees profit from things they do not own or have any right to barter. For instance, selling a couch at employee cost in exchange for a tattoo; providing car repairs at their employer’s mechanic shop in exchange for free tax preparation; a free meal in exchange for a free meal at a neighboring food establishment. This type of employee theft can be similar to “sweethearting”, where an employee is giving away company goods/services, but with bartering they are not only stealing from the company they are also personally profiting from the exchange.

Another aspect to this new type of bartering is with company time. Employees barter company time in exchange for completing personal tasks. For example, drafting their own book on company time or “buddy punching” – having a friend or coworker clock-in for you even when you are not there. Time theft effects productivity, which costs businesses billions of dollars a year.

This bartering technique can be easier to conceal. With no paper trails or missing monies, they tend to go undetected for longer periods of time. It is almost as if the offenders are playing a real-life version of Monopoly: Cheater Edition [1] – where cheating is not only encouraged but incentivized. “You can follow, bend, or break the rules to win. The player with the most money at the end wins”[1]. It would be a fantastic way to practice except, in real life, there is no Get Out of Jail Free card.


[1] Hasbro Monopoly: Cheaters Edition


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