Employee time theft is a big issue for many employers. It’s even more complicated in companies that employ remote employees. Stealing time from work silently kills both work productivity and profits – harming both companies and employees in the long run.
In this post, we’ll discuss everything about time theft issues. Let’s discover what time theft is all about, how employers can spot it, and what to do when it happens.
We’ll also tackle how a robust time tracker and project management tool like HomeSquad helps safeguard your organisation from time theft issues.
Defining Employee Time Theft
Time theft is the act of stealing time from work. It happens when an employee receives pay for logged work hours without actually working during those times.
Minutes or hours devoted to break times and travel time between jobs for mobile employees are not time theft. These are all normally a part of employees’ compensated time at work. Time theft only includes deliberate fraud where hours are logged as work but the employee didn’t do any of his assigned tasks.
Most companies have experienced employee time theft in different proportions. Corporate giants, small businesses, and even remote workplaces have suffered from time theft in any way. Some businesses don’t mind tiny amounts of time theft, but this could grow into a habit that can cause huge profit losses and even business decline in the long run.
How Do Employees Commit Time Theft?
1. Buddy punching
In buddy punching, a co-worker either clocks in or out for another employee. The errant employee typically asks this as a favour from his co-worker. He could either be coming to work late, skipping out early, or completely absent from work.
Buddy punching is a common occurrence in most work organisations. It’s easily done when you use analogue tracking systems like manual tracking using pen and paper or punch-type time clocks. Employees also find ways to do buddy punching when using time clock software that doesn’t require biometrics or facial recognition.
2. Early clock-ins and clock-outs
3. Taking prolonged work breaks
4. Spending time surfing the internet or doing personal tasks
An employee is guilty of time theft when he is clocked into work but spends his time on any of the following tasks not related to his work:
- Calling or texting on the job
- Surfing the internet for fun
- Visiting social media sites
- Sending private emails
- Online shopping
- Running errands while on the job (for mobile employees)
- Using company software and facilities for personal purposes
You’re paying your employee the right salary but he isn’t delivering on the promise to only focus on work-related tasks during designated work hours.
Spotting Time Theft
Time theft may look different depending on your industry. However, three general indicators clue you in on a time theft activity happening within your business:
- Frequently missing deadlines
- Using too much time for personal tasks while at work
- Disappearing employees
These indicators may apply for both on-site and remote employees.
Dealing with Employee Time Theft Issues
So, you’ve spotted time theft issues and want to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. What should you do?
1. Engage your employees and boost their morale.
The best way to prevent time theft among employees is to boost their morale. Showing courtesy to your employees and engaging them in positive ways will certainly make them feel energised, respected, and motivated to work. All these can reduce or completely prevent them from resorting to time theft activities.
2. Set clear rules about time theft.
Provide your employees with clear stipulations about time theft policies. Your document should contain:
- All potential situations that constitute time theft for employees
- Disciplinary measures to be given to employees guilty of time theft
- Confirmation that the employees have read and understood the policies
Communicate this policy to your entire team. Call for a huddle or meeting and distribute the policy to your team.
For remote employees, send it through email and your team’s communication tool from a project management app such as HomeSquad. Ask them to acknowledge receipt of the policies and that they’ve read and understood it well.
3. Use quality time clock software.
Modern time clock software allows you to monitor your team’s clock-ins and outs without having to worry about time theft. For on-site employees, consider a biometric system that uses fingerprint scans or facial recognition. These timekeeping solutions are hard to tamper with and effectively prevents buddy punching in particular.
Remote employees can also be monitored with a robust time tracking software like HomeSquad. You can track the time your team’s work start and stop times easily. You may also enable screenshot captures to monitor if they are actually busy with their tasks – effectively eliminating time theft caused by doing mindless internet surfing and personal tasks. HomeSquad even features an HR service to help you and your team better manage timekeeping.
4. Maintain open communication lines.
Another good way to deal with time theft is by keeping your communication lines open. This applies to both on-site employees and remote teams.
Be that manager who isn’t feared by your colleagues! Approach your team members in a calm and non-obtrusive manner. Speak openly and truthfully and encourage your team to voice out their concerns as well. By doing so, you’re creating a culture of understanding and you’ll also learn about any structural issues that could be driving your employees to practice time theft.
Open communication lines can save your company from time theft, strengthen your teamwork, and boost your overall productivity and morale.
Employee time theft may seem like a small issue for some companies. However, you need to nip it in the bud to prevent potential huge losses to your business and save your employees’ morale and reputation.
There are several tools you can use for time theft prevention. Affordable but robust time tracking software, project management apps, and communication tools can aid you in looking out for, addressing them, and preventing time theft in the future.