Theft is often thought of as a tangible act such as stealing goods or merchandise. However, for business owners, one of the most common forms of theft they have to deal with is intangible one — stealing time. 

With so many moving parts to managing a business, you might wonder if the few extra minutes your employees tack onto their lunchtime is really worth your effort. However, there are so many situations where time theft can occur, so every few minutes really adds up. Let’s discuss some common examples of time theft in the workplace, and how you can prevent it.

Streamline Your Time

What Is Time Theft?

If an employee is paid for hours or even minutes during which they have not performed work, then that constitutes time theft. While most employees wouldn’t consider taking the entire afternoon off of work while remaining clocked in, many don’t think twice about checking personal emails or catching up on social media while they’re at work. Although it seems harmless, such behaviors when left unchecked, can cost a business thousands of dollars over the year in labor costs and lost productivity. Plus, if one employee can get away with it, others may be more inclined to do so.

Why It Happens 

There are many reasons—intentional and unintentional—that an employee may engage in time theft. One is helping a friend out. Buddy punching, where one person arriving at a job location will punch in their coworker, is common. 

Other employees may feel entitled to the extra minutes or hours. They may feel as if the company owes them that extra money because they are being paid below their worth or they are being treated unfairly in a different way. Therefore, finding ways to get paid a little extra is an employee’s way of taking what they feel they rightfully deserve. 

There’s also the excuse that stealing time seems harmless. Many employees haven’t fully thought through the idea that their actions may be hurting the company, their coworkers, and putting their own jobs in jeopardy. It may seem harmless enough to check Facebook a few times a day, but when you add it up, this 10 minutes per day equates to over 40 hours every year — a full week’s worth of work! 

Examples of Time Theft 

The following are a few different types of scenarios that may constitute time theft:

  • Using work time to make personal phone calls or send personal emails
  • Browsing the internet for non-work-related purposes
  • Take prolonged breaks while clocked in
  • Buddy punching (clocking in for a coworker when they are not there)
  • Falsifying hours worked on a timecard
  • Rounding up on time cards
  • Excessive socializing with coworkers

Three Ways To Combat Time Theft

If you want to reduce your risk of time theft, here are some tips on what you can do.

1.  Communicate.

 Step one in preventing time theft is to communicate what it is and why it’s a problem. Some employees may not have even thought that taking a few extra minutes at lunch was a big deal while others are well-aware of their actions. Talking it through with employees helps to level the playing field and ensures no one can claim ignorance. 

Enhancing communication as a whole also helps to build trust and ownership. Employees who feel like they are part of a team are less likely to do things that go against or hurt the team.  

2.  Set Clear Expectations.

Make sure that employees have clearly-defined roles and responsibilities and understand who to go to if they have questions. This helps to eliminate confusion about what they should and shouldn’t be doing and gives them a point of contact if they are unsure about the rules or know someone who is taking advantage of them.

3.  Enlist the Help of Technology

One of the easiest ways to manage labor costs and payroll is to enlist the help of employee time tracking software Scheduling+. Our all-in-one business management software allows you to manage and track employee time using a cloud-based system that is easily accessible through our mobile app. This isn’t your typical time clock — Scheduling+ has added features that allow greater transparency and improved reporting functions that help to reduce time fraud. 

Learn More About Scheduling + From GetSwift

Scheduling+ has many features intended to reduce administrative costs, eliminate time theft, improve productivity, and just make your life easier.  

Here are just a few of the features you’ll enjoy with Scheduling+:

  • Employees can clock in/out directly from their employee app
  • Deter buddy punching by requiring a photo id for clocking in and out
  • Receive alerts when an employee approaches overtime
  • Limit the number of minutes an employee can clock in before their shift
  • Get detailed reports on late clock-ins, break times, missed shifts, and more

Are you interested in learning more? Contact a member of our team to schedule a live demo today.