You might not realize this, but time theft is a form of workforce theft.
It occurs when employees accept pay for time they haven’t worked. It’s estimated that nearly half of all employees engage in time theft.
In a more precise example, if you have 100 employees in your company, and each one earns $15 per hour but engages in non-work activity for 30 minutes a day, that costs you $750 per day, which translates into $187,500 per year. Can you afford to lose that amount of money?
There are a number of ingenious ways that employees steal company time. But there are also ways that employers can guard against this financial drain.
First, let’s look at the ways employees steal time, and then consider prevention.
1. Time Clock Location
Employees can take advantage of electronic timekeeping systems almost as much as they can paper timesheets.
If you have electronic time clock systems in multiple locations, employees have been known to punch into the time clocks furthest from their workstations, and then use company time to arrive at their workstation – maybe stopping for a chat with a fellow employee along the way – get settled in, and then begin to work.
2. Buddy Punching
This is one of the most common forms of time theft. It occurs when a co-worker punches or signs in or out for a fellow co-worker when they aren’t actually on the premises working.
3. Smoke Breaks
2013 results from a study conducted by The Ohio State University found that employees who smoke cost companies approximately $6000 per employee, per year. Reduced productivity related to the nicotine habit of smokers cost employers $462.
4. Mr. Sandman & Other Minor Slips
Close to 30% of your employees report sleeping on the job. When employees excessively talk with coworkers – or on their cell phones – that eats up time as well. Extended work breaks, online shopping, and obsessively checking personal emails and social media accounts continue to pose a problem.
5. Swipe Card Slick Talk
Dishonest employees can claim that the biometric time system has malfunctioned, or that they’ve forgotten their swipe card when in both cases, these individuals were simply late arriving to work.
This means that a staff member will have to manually key time into the payroll system. Usually, the amount of time inserted is a full 8 hours, not the 7 hours and 48 minutes the employee actually worked. Done repeatedly, these employees get paid for arriving late to work each day – which digs into your wallet.
Time Theft Prevention
Monitoring your employees’ every move can be just as time-consuming and financially draining. But to minimize loss from time theft, it’s important to have some systems in place.
Here are just a few examples:
- Openly communicate time and attendance expectations to employees
- Increase employee accountability with biometric technology
- Use global positioning systems to track offsite employees
However you choose to handle time theft within your company, keep in mind that your approach must be ethical, especially when addressing personal reasons for time thefts, like an employee’s smoking addiction.