Time theft isn’t an easy subject to talk about. Most of the time employee strive to do the right thing like, getting to work on time, clocking in and out on time. Time theft is the elephant in the room for many business owners. However unintentional it may be, it is one of the most damaging acts that can go unnoticed for a long time. Time theft is rarely motivated by employees in a vindictive manner, yet this simple thing has the greatest impact on a companies bottom line. It also happens more often than you think!
How Time Theft Happens
- Employees that pad their time sheets with the extra time they didn’t work. In extreme cases where employees log time they didn’t work at all.
- Employees that spend time working on unapproved tasks.
- Employees who punch the time clock for their friends “buddy punching” so it looks like they are at work too.
- Employees who forget to fill out their timesheet until the end of the week and overstate time they worked.
- Employees who don’t clock out for their breaks.
Over half of the U.S. employees admit to adding between 15 minutes to an hour to their time sheets each day. That is a lot of time taken from the company. Fifteen minutes may not seem like much, but over time it adds up quickly. The sum total of time taken unfairly from companies has resulted in $11 billion unworked hours across the United States days, firmofthefuture.com.
This is a trend that many bookkeepers are noticing as they work with the books for various companies. The average cost of time theft is to be 5% of a companies gross payroll.
What can you do about it?
Educate Your Employees
Talk to your employees about time theft and the different forms of time theft mentioned in this article. Many managers are surprised that employees can clock in for their buddies and that is happening. Teach your employees how to spot “buddy punching” and give them an easy way to report it. When employees understand the importance of not stealing time and how it affects their jobs, healthcare costs, bonuses and company profitability, they will be less likely to participate.
Get a prevention plan in place
If you don’t have a section of your employee handbook that talks about employee time theft, then you need to come up with a policy quickly. Encourage your HR team to create or review your current policy. Make sure you outline what “time theft” is and what the “repercussions” are going to be when you get caught.
Follow through with better time keeping
Don’t at the developing a policy for time theft, adopt a new way of time tracking. Here are some tips.
- Go to a digital punch system with electronics cards.
- Use GPS tracking for those employees that are in the field.
- Use biometrics to prevent “buddy punching”.
- Use an automated time tracking software like Tsheets.