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Retail Management: Policy Violations

Building a successful career in loss prevention has always been predicated on the commitment to professional growth and development. Working in a business as dynamic as retail, it is essential that we remain flexible in our methods and progressive in our approach to a global retail market. As the business moves forward, change comes quickly, and our retail management skills and abilities must evolve to meet the needs and expectations of a new professional standard.

But true growth must be built on a solid foundation. Especially when we consider the pace of change, we find that success is largely based on the refinement of the fundamental principles that anchor our skills and our decision-making. By expanding on our foundation of knowledge, we give ourselves a stronger and more stable base to build upon. We reinforce our futures by broadening our opportunities.

Policy Violations
Company policies are developed and implemented as a means to draw boundaries and clear potential confusion. They provide a strategic link between a company’s vision and the day-to-day operations of the organization. While every company establishes its retail management policies based on the specific needs and interests of the organization, the goals and purposes behind our policy-building efforts can typically be defined by the following general categories:

• To communicate legally required information and guidelines (for example, Equal Employment Opportunities, Sexual Harassment, Family and Medical Leave, etc.)
• To communicate company expectations, rules, and other requirements and information to our employees
• To practice and implement uniform and consistent treatment of our employees, and reduce the risk of disparate treatment
• To communicate benefits and related information
• To provide employees with a reflection of the company’s vision and philosophies
• To reduce liability and protect the best interests of the company and our employees

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Well-written policies allow employees to understand their roles and responsibilities within predefined limits; and allow retail management to guide business operations efficiently and without constant intervention. Unfortunately, rules are occasionally broken and intervention is then necessary.

Based on our experience with managing a spectrum of investigative issues and our expertise with the interviewing process, Loss Prevention is often called upon to deal with these incidents. Many of these incidents may also be of a sensitive and/or confidential nature requiring the utmost scrutiny and discretion in order to bring these incidents to an appropriate and successful conclusion. While our role may vary based on the needs and practices of the individual organization, our objective should remain to provide our services to the company as deemed necessary and appropriate.

Loss Prevention may be brought in as a partner when there is an employee misconduct issue. Misconduct might involve an employee disrupting the work environment with aggressive or abusive behavior, affecting the morale and performance of others. It may involve insubordination, and the employee’s refusal to follow direction. Misconduct may involve other forms of behavior, such as timeliness or attendance issues. Depending on the specific type of conduct issue, Loss Prevention responsibilities in these types of situations can vary greatly from strictly an advisory role to more detailed investigations and potentially interviewing those parties involved.

As with any Loss Prevention investigation, our goal in these situations is to find the truth:

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• Do the facts establish that the employee did (or failed to do) what has been claimed?
• Did the employee’s behavior violate an established rule, policy or requirement?
• Did the employee know (or should have known) that their conduct violated the established rule, policy or requirement? Has it been adequately communicated to the employees?
• Has the rule, policy or requirement been followed and enforced consistently?

In these situations, it is typically the role of Loss Prevention to gather the facts and develop the employee investigation fully so that informed decisions can be made regarding the alleged conduct. However, it is just as important for us to recognize our role, and allow the appropriate decision makers to reach their conclusions based on all available information. Partnering with these retail management decision makers (The Human Resource Department, Supervisors, and/or other Home Office representatives when appropriate) every Loss Prevention professional must keep in mind that the goal of any discipline is to correct the misconduct and modify the behavior rather than punish the employee.

By capitalizing on opportunities to enhance our knowledge and education, we are making an investment in our own future. To learn more about developing your leadership skills and the certification process, visit

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