Pens

Over a third (67%) of British office workers admit to stealing from their office, costing businesses in the UK an estimated £190 million every year, according to Kit Out My Office.

The survey also found that 1.5 million Brit admitted stealing personal items from their colleagues, to the tune of £12.5m. Of all those that had been caught stealing from their workplace, fewer than one in seven office thieves had lost their jobs.

Two thirds of UK office-based employees confessed that they had stolen from their workplace, with 11% of these revealing that they had stolen personal items from colleagues.

Those that admitted stealing office items estimated the cost over the year to be around £12.50 each, based on the value of the items. With the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimating around 22.74 million people work in an office, more than 15 million workers across the UK have stolen from the office. Taking the average £12.50 per year, businesses are losing out on £190m a year as a result of theft.

The most popular items to steal were stationery (71%), toilet roll (52%), food and drink (44%), personal items from a colleague's desk (11%) and cleaning products (10%).

But why would you steal a personal item from a colleague?

Four in ten (41%) said they'd stolen from a colleague because they had argued with that person. Eleven per cent said they did it because they were jealous of that person. Workers estimated the total value of items stolen from colleagues' desk to around £7.50.

Nearly three quarters (73%) of those who admitted stealing from the office said they have never been caught. But of the 27% who had been caught, half said they got off without punishment, 36% received a warning and 13% lost their job.

Gareth Jones, digital marketing manager at Kit Out My Office, said: “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 two 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.

“In all seriousness, these small acts of rebellion suggest a certain carelessness when it comes to a person’s employment. If employees felt like they were a valued part of a team, working towards a common goal, they would be too invested in the success of the company to consider jeopardising either their own positions or the company itself. It’s easy to pinch a toilet roll rather than have to stop at a shop on the way home, but it’s also important to impart boundaries and ensure employees understand the impact they could have on the business; in both a positive and a negative way.”