Brands & Marketing

How Nigerian Workers Defraud and Kill Businesses (Part 1)

When workers, justified by the expediency of survival, take on the frontline of a business, profitability is unattainable. How does a business survive or function effectively with all sorts of employee fraud that has been the bane of businesses in Nigeria? It might be a huge surprise, but this virus eats deep into the heart of workers in virtually all kinds of business.

Most businesses in Nigeria are not always run by a single individual. It is always the collective effort of the entire workforce. As a result, most of these fraudulent acts are done in sync with other members of staff in the same business environment. The point of sale is always strategic.

These days, it is common practice for sales to either do a double entry of whatever purchase or inflate the price of goods which is subtly displayed on the receipts and more often than not, unnoticed by customers. These workers are always careful not to inflate these dubious charges massively to avoid suspicions. The act is carried out with so much impunity that customers hardly question their supposed charges for purchases.

This type of employee fraud was the bane of YouShop, a popular supermarket located on Adeniran Ogunsanya, Surulere, Lagos State. It went into extinction barely two years after it was established. Findings revealed that the workers were the bane of the business.

YouShop initially employed four full-time workers to manage the business. They include the manager, an assistant manager, and two shop assistants. However, they all upturned the business with different fraudulent schemes. The workers cut corners and ran most of the outlets aground.

The laid down rule was that online transfers must be done in the company’s account. However, when the network had any issue the manager was given the liberty to use his personal bank details, but must remit the full sum to the company’s account as soon as possible.

Due to selfish reasons, the exception became the norm. The manager capitalised on this to habitually offer his bank details for every online transaction. He also consistently remitted much less than what was paid into his account each day. He enlisted the help of the assistant manager who aided him in inflating invoices and recording less than the actual figures sold each day.

Apart from this, they sold goods at a price higher than what was fixed officially. The business lost so many customers who felt disgruntled that goods in the supermarket were ridiculously higher than what was obtained everywhere else.

When the shop assistants discovered the level of fraud going on, the managers decided to bring them into the scheme. The four then colluded that each person’s bank details will be rotated for online transactions. They allocated days for each staff to drop their personal accounts for official transactions. It was quite endemic and the chance of the supermarket surviving for long was close to nil.

The entire workforce gradually turned YouShop into an “e-commerce platform”. They became pretty hostile to customers who said they did not prefer the transfer option. Some of them were practically taking goods from the shop at will without payment.

When it got to the knowledge of the C.E.O, he overhauled his entire staff and employed new ones. He also made honesty the top criteria for employment. However, his overhead cost grew as he introduced CCTV camera, biometric scanners, security services and other things that a medium-size supermarket will not need if the staff weren’t looking for the slightest opportunity to steal.

Although it reduced the thievery, the business still went under since it was no longer profitable. The money spent on all of these was even more than the profits the company was getting. It was this that led to the final crash of YouShop.

The bane of the Nigerian society has for a long time been and might always be the prevalence of unethical practices in its various sectors, particularly, its businesses. Truth be told, the term, corruption, has unabashedly assumed a state of normalcy and in fact, has become a household word in the Nigerian society. This has unfortunately eaten neck-deep into businesses- foreign and local.

We may conclude without a hint of doubt that this flaw presents itself as one of the major reasons why a number of businesses, including those of foreign investors, crash even when it seems they had it right at the start.

When Milton Fredman argued in his essay that the social responsibility sole purpose of businesses is to make profit, it was so that the society should realise that a business is held by a string of factors that serve as determinants to the ultimate goal of profitability. Hence, while other factors like the strength of demand, technological advancement of business environs and others can influence business survival, the workforce will leave an indelible mark and explicitly determine business growth and survival.

This is largely attributed to the fact that they not only have firsthand contact with customers, but also serve as the physical pillars on which the business is rooted. However, when the work culture is toxic, suffocating the primary objectives of making profit, the business stands no winning chance.

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Some times, customers, oblivious of this practice, arrive at their respective destinations without a second glance at receipts issued. Other times, it is too late to make a complaint on such a minor extra charge which might even be termed accidental and or unintentional. But a negative mark is left on the customer.

One cannot emphasise enough that a customer’s trust and loyalty is the most valuable form of currency in businesses today. Hence, a business devoid of this trust by virtue of this deep-seated plague certainly holds no essence and cannot thrive. The same way a single customer can act as a binding force, he/she can also represent a repelling force for the business.

This goes on to show that when this act comes to the awareness of even a single customer, a chain reaction is possible. The root of the business may face a slow but inevitable downfall as a cock does not crow for a single household but for the whole neighbourhood. What then is a business with all these unethical practices?

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