Time theft is one of the biggest problems business owners face. This phenomenon is comprised of many different techniques that have the common result – employees getting paid for the time they haven’t spent working.
Some of the most common time theft methods include:
- Starting work late and/or finishing early
- Longer or non-approved breaks
- Chatting with coworkers during work hours
- Resolving personal issues during office hours
- Buddy punching
- Unnecessary overtime
- Browsing the internet instead of working
The Consequences of Time Theft
The negative impact of time theft is obvious to any business owner. According to studies, time and wage theft can cost a company up to 8% of its income on a yearly level. However, the monetary cost isn’t the only damage.
Negative behaviors that go unnoticed set a bad example for the whole team. If a coworker has a habit of coming in late and leaving early without suffering any consequences, their team won’t be too happy about it. There are multiple consequences for the team if this continues happening.
Firstly, there will definitely be some resentment among team members. This can start and end as office gossip, but it is far more likely for the other employees to feel like their time and effort aren’t being appreciated. This resentment can turn on the company instead of the time-thieving coworker.
Secondly, the rest of the team will have to pick up the slack. In other words, if one employee isn’t delivering their projects, other workers will have to finish their part of the job. And if this keeps happening, the rest of the team will slowly approach burnout slowly but surely.
Finally, it is very easy for other employees to mimic time theft methods they see from a coworker. Suddenly, your entire team will be ‘’stealing’’ five to ten minutes here and there and never think about it, as it is an objectively minute amount of time. However, if many individuals steal a little time, that time will add up to quite a significant amount.
How to Prevent Time Theft?
There are multiple ways to reduce and prevent time theft. The one thing they have in common is employee time tracking. This practice may not be popular in the beginning, and you will likely have to tweak it along the way. However, a good time tracking platform will make time theft abundantly clear.
Firstly, there are some strict time tracking methods. They include geo-fencing, monitoring hardware activity – mouse movement and keystrokes, for example, and apps, websites, and documents your employees are interacting with during work hours.
These methods may look enticing and safe, but they also carry the risk of building resentment. In other words, you may prevent time theft, but the members of your team who don’t commit it will feel like you don’t trust them.
On the other hand, there are different time tracking solutions. Namely, online timesheet platforms can help you understand who is committing time theft while still giving your employees the freedom to track their time on their own. Again, you may be thinking this solution won’t work, as your employees can simply lie in their timesheets.
However, good timesheet platforms also give you an insight into what’s getting done and by whom. To put it simply, you will notice a significant difference in the results of the employees who don’t commit time theft and those who do.
Differentiate Between Lost Time and Time Theft
Many of the above-mentioned time theft methods can come up completely accidentally. For example, many people lose track of time when browsing social media. This isn’t malicious behavior, and the employee often ends up overwhelmed by the work they haven’t had the time to finish, causing themselves unnecessary stress. You can usually resolve these issues by having a conversation with the employee.
On the other hand, though, there are the employees who commit time theft on purpose. These cases include buddy punching, non-approved overtime, fudging with numbers, etc. You will have to take some preventive measures to curb time theft in these cases.