How to Avoid Time Theft – A Silent Cost Drain

Avoiding Time Theft – The Silent Cost Drain on the Average Business

With the economy currently on the upswing, businesses have the opportunity to increase productivity. Getting the most out of your employees is something that further fuels the economic engine. More importantly, it helps put additional money in the company coffers.

 

Lazy Employees
Lazy Employees

However, one issue that needs to be addressed with every company is the cost incurred by time theft. The definition of time theft from a business perspective is when employees waste time on things not related to their jobs. This can entail any one of a number of activities, but regardless of how it’s defined, the numbers are staggering for businesses.

The Financial Cost

The economic cost of lost productivity is more than $400 billion every year. One survey found that employers are paying each employee for over four hours of work that isn’t done because of actions that take employees away from their jobs. With many companies having limited margins of error due to heavy competition, ignoring the problem or not addressing it in a forthright manner can prove deadly for a business’s future.

There are a number of different ways that time theft is committed. None of them can be excused since they fly in the face of the overall goals of a company. Here are the three most egregious examples:

 

Employees hanging around
Employees hanging around

Break and Lunchtime Abuse

The typical break is 15 minutes, and the average lunch period is either 30 minutes or an hour. Yet some employees seem to take their time returning to their work areas after either one. This can be especially true when it comes to smokers, who walk outside to have a cigarette that often takes five minutes. Doing that twice a day over a typical work week means that they were paid for one hour, yet only put in 10 minutes of work.

Unless they’re dealing with a client or the lunch is business-related, there should be no reason employees shouldn’t be able to return to their jobs after eating their lunch. Like smoking, even returning five minutes late every day will add up over the course of a week, month and year.

 

Internet socializing
Internet socializing

Abusing Internet Privileges

Most office employees have internet access at their desks, which can be an asset. However, too often, these individuals use that internet access to shop online, play games or check personal e-mail. The checking or updating of social media is a more recent addition to this list, but for the past generation, this problem is one that has existed and must be dealt with by employers.

With cell phones now standard for virtually all members of society, iPhones or other smartphones now fall under this area. Texting is something that can be done quietly, which means that it can be a hidden killer for businesses. Unless it’s addressed, the drain on company finances can be damaging.

 

Employee swipe card
Employee swipe card

Swipe Card Manipulation or “Buddy Punching”

With some businesses, employees are required to use a swipe card to document when they arrived for work or left. While this technology can help eliminate time theft, it remains open to creating negative employee ethical issues. This can include claiming that the card was lost or simply forgotten, or that a fellow employee loaned them a card, a practice known as “buddy punching.” Either way, any productivity gains can quickly be chipped away.

Those companies still using time clocks are even more open to these problems since fellow employees can punch each other in early or late, if necessary. This is also the case when it comes to having a person sign in at a specific time. Actions like those cut into the bottom line, which no business can stand for any extended period.

 

Monitor employees
Monitor employees

One Plan of Attack for a Business

Some new technologies deal with this problem by having a scheduling system in place that automatically prevents employees from clocking in before or after the schedule states they should. Time record approval sheets can also be created to directly check any problems. “Time is money” is an old adage, but it’s definitely true when it comes to time theft, something every business needs to keep on their toes about. Have ideas on this topic? Please visit our Bitly page and post your comments or recommend other resources to discuss this concept.

 

Our appreciation for this great Human Resources content goes out to Tracksmart.com, a leader in technology for small to mid-size companies.

Pause for a moment and think about how YOU would deal with the issue of time theft in your company. What do you think would be your go to tool? Is employee time and attendance software? Is it hiring someone to just monitor the activities of employees? What about a new security system for your office? Several thousand businesses trust Tracksmart’s employee time clock software to provide real time employee tracking data to minimize the possibility of time theft in their business. Take a look and see if their industry leading apps can help you.

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