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Time Theft and How to Prevent It

Written by Complete Payroll

Time Theft and How to Prevent It

Many different forms of employee theft result in a loss of money that companies have to contend with. If time theft is one of your business’s issues, you’re in good company. According to Small Biz Genius, time theft affects 75% of all businesses showing that it is no small matter. 

Time theft can be hard to spot and hard to stop, but your bottom line depends on it. Finances Online reports that 20% of every dollar earned by a company is lost due to time theft. 

If you’re looking to eliminate time theft issues in your company, here is some advice on how to spot time theft and how to prevent it.

What is Time Theft?

Time theft is simply when an employee is being paid for time they are not working. This could be something as simple as shirking responsibilities in favor of socializing with coworkers or surfing the web to more complex examples of outright fraud.

The most common examples of time theft in companies include:

1. Giving False Information on Time Cards

Falsifying a time card entails employees providing inaccurate data about how many hours they worked throughout a pay period. This is easier to accomplish when companies utilize paper time cards to help them keep track of hours. 

2. Buddy Punching

When one employee clocks in and out for another employee, this is called buddy punching. Companies that haven’t updated their clocking-in procedures are more prone to be victims of buddy punching. 

3. Abuse of Break Time

Employees are often entitled to specific break times by federal and state law. However, break times leave a lot of room for time theft. An extended lunch here or an excessive amount of smoke breaks might not seem like a lot on paper, but over the course of months or a year, those hours of paid time for not working really add up.

4. Social Media Use

If you use social media, you know what an addictive time suck it can be. That use can suck paid time from a company as well. According to a survey by Desktime, of all time spent on non-work-related online platforms, social media takes up 49% of that time. 

5. Personal Tasks

Another common example of time theft is when employees use work hours to attend to personal activities. These can include running errands, online shopping, and taking personal phone calls. 

How You Can Prevent Time Theft

If employees were walking away with company equipment, you would surely put a plan into place to stop it or discipline the offender. Since time theft also takes money from a business, it’s only reasonable that you would have a plan to prevent this type of theft, too. 

Some ways you can protect your bottom line and hold employees accountable for company time include:

Improve Employee Morale

More often than not, time theft is a result of low employee morale and general disengagement. Morale is further damaged when other employees see coworkers getting away with time theft. All of this leads to lower productivity and less profit overall for your company. 

Find ways to motivate employees and engage them in their work and company again. Whether you make concerted efforts to give positive feedback to your employees or establish a full incentive program, making the workplace more engaging can greatly improve morale and reduce time theft. 

Establish Clear Policies and Provide Professional Development

Go back to your employee handbook and make sure you have clear policies about expectations when employees are on the clock. If you already have policies on the books but they are often ignored, look for opportunities to provide professional development or additional training surrounding these expectations and review them at regular intervals. 

Check In Regularly

Check-ins with employees shouldn’t be limited to quarterly performance reviews. Develop a system to informally check in with employees to get a better understanding of why they may be disengaged or their general level of performance satisfaction. This will give you a chance to engage employees on a personal level and build the feeling that they’re part of a team and not just a cog in the machine. 

Update Your TImekeeping System

If you’re still using paper time cards or punch clocks, it’s well past time you update your system. Automated timekeeping systems help keep accurate records of when employees are on the job and when they leave. Since each user has a unique login, buddy punching is much more difficult. Additionally, automatic timekeeping software can also feature geotagging capabilities that show you the exact location an employee clocked in or out with a mobile device.

Between training and finding ways for employees to be held more accountable, time theft can be a thing of the past. If you’re looking for solutions to your time theft issues, the experts at Complete Payroll are just who you need. Contact us today to discuss our timekeeping solutions that will help increase accountability, accuracy, and overall productivity. 

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