Time theft can occur in your business when you pay an employee(s) for work they either have not done, or you pay them for time when they were not on the premises. With the growing remote and mobile workforce, time theft has become a much bigger issue for employers. In fact, it has become so big, millions of dollars are being lost every year in productivity. Some other businesses are using factoring invoice companies to pay employees who have cheated the system. This puts a dent in cash flow by paying for work that was not completed.
This is an issue that is not confined to only one type of employer, or one type of industry. Time thieves can work in any sector of the workforce, and many have become increasingly creative in how they are avoiding work.
If you suspect that someone on your staff is committing time theft, here are several things that you should be on the lookout for, and the ways you can fight back.
Friend or “Buddy” Punching
This is one of the biggest problems facing employers. Employees have created a buddy system where one ‘friend’ or employee clocks in for another one. Sometimes, it may be as simple as giving the employee their employee badge to swipe it in the time clock. Employees that use a traditional time clock can simply punch their friend’s time card for them.
The problem can be magnified for companies that use sign in sheets to verify arrival departure times. An employee can simply sign in for another employee.
The good news for employers is that the advancement of technology is making this type of time theft more difficult. There are time clocks on the market that use biometrics to identify employees. For example, an employee may be required to submit to:
• Facial recognition
These time clocks have eliminated friend punching time theft in the workplace.
Beat the Clock
It is not uncommon for staff and employees in the workplace to ‘fudge’ the number of hours they work. This occurs often when paper sheets are used to keep track of employees’ hours. As much as an employer does not want to hear it, it probably occurs a lot more often than they are aware. There are some employees who have even discovered ways to increase their hours with electronic time clocks.
There are a range of temptations that employees face on a daily basis. These temptations can result in decreased efficiency and productivity. Examples of these activities include:
• Chatting and socializing with co-workers
• Taking too many personal calls
• Extended breaks
• Unapproved breaks
• Falling asleep
This is a challenge for most employers, and with the introduction of tablets and smartphones, employees spend a lot of time doing these activities instead of working:
• Logging into social media
• Checking their personal email inboxes
• Playing online games
• Working on their own business or outside interests during work hours
• Shopping online
Out of all of these, social media is considered the biggest contributor to time theft in the workplace. Studies have shown that the productivity in an office drops almost 20% when the employees are able to have Facebook access. Other studies have revealed that 60% of employees admit to checking Facebook for at least 20 minutes every day at work.
However, Facebook is not the only social media site your employees may be visiting. LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and the list continues. These sites are major time distractors in the workplace and are also a source of time theft in the workplace.
Taking advantage of breaks and meal times by extending them without authorization is another form of time theft. What is supposed to be a 30 minute break for lunch can easily turn into an hour lunch if the employee is not required to use a designated time clock to log breaks.
Smokers are very costly to businesses. Per a recent university study, each smoker that is in a workplace costs the employer almost $6.00 more than someone who does not smoke. This amount is due primarily to lost productivity and more breaks.
Playing Hide and Seek
When your employees are constantly on the go, it can be challenging to know if they are in the location they are supposed to be in. Landscapers, drivers and homecare workers fall into this category. They may decide to go shopping for a little while, or go home and walk their dog. If the proper checks and balances aren’t set up, you could easily lose track of your employees for hours at a time. Employers are usually not aware until there is a complaint or something happens.
Biometrics and other data collection options will help you track employees. Staying aware of time theft will help decrease your payroll budget.
James Daniels is a freelance writer, business enthusiast, a bit of a tech buff, and an overall geek. He is also an avid reader, who can while away hours reading and knowing about the latest gadgets and tech, whilst offering views and opinions on these topics.