How Time Theft Affects Co-Workers

Bill needs to cut out a little early today. He asks Sue if she’ll clock him out when his shift is over. Sue tells him not to worry, she’s happy to help. Maybe it’s no big deal to them, but it could be a big deal to everyone else.

Every day, businesses across the country lose money because of employee time theft. The type of buddy punching between Bill and Sue is among the most common, but time theft comes in all shapes and sizes, including:

  • Taking breaks that are longer than the allotted time.
  • Leaving early or running late at lunch.
  • Manually reporting inaccurate clock-in/clock-out times
  • Tending to personal business on work time

Time theft image

As we discussed in a previous article, some estimates suggest that time theft is costing businesses 7% of their gross profit. That’s $70,000 out of every $1 million grossed. And while bottom line losses can be detrimental to a company’s success, time theft also affects coworker relationships.

Time theft decreases employee morale

When an employee steals time, or fails to account for work time they’ve lost for personal reasons, it goes beyond your bottom line. In fact, time theft can undermine the confidence and morale of coworkers, and create a negative atmosphere for everyone.

Let’s consider Bill and Sue for another moment:

  • When Bill leaves early because of personal matters, he’s also leaving work behind. This can send a ripple across other employees and work groups. In some cases, someone else will have to cover and make sure his work gets done. In other cases, the workflow may pause and create a bottleneck.
  • For Sue, she may feel like she’s just being a good friend. But what happens when Jen finds out, and asks Sue to buddy punch for her tomorrow? If Sue says yes, when will it stop? And if she says no, this could create tension with Jen that spills over to other employees, and eventually management.
  • When management finds out, they might grow distrustful, and begin suspecting that others are in the act. This could lead to things like a stern reprimand to entire teams, to new policies that minimize flexibility, to tighter security where everyone feels like they’re being watched.

Time theft can adversely affect your on-the-job environment, creating a situation where employees become dissatisfied, and even start looking for new jobs. Our interactive Time Theft Test is a great way for you to quiz your knowledge of time theft, and explore key industry data related to its true costs.

Take the Time Theft Quiz

What can you do to stay ahead of time theft before it becomes an issue?

Even if you’re not aware of time theft being an issue in your company, it is a very real thing that affects 3 out of 4 companies in the U.S. every day. Here are three things to consider to help you avoid or curtail time theft:

  1. Talk about time theft

Some of your employees may know what time theft is all about. Others may have never heard of it before.

  • Take this opportunity to talk to your employees about it, and explain the effects time theft has on your business and their coworkers.
  • Our previous article on time theft provides a number of useful stats related to lost hours and costs per week and year.
  • While discussing time theft in general, you may want to focus on buddy punching, which is one of the most prevalent forms of time theft.
  1. Update your time tracking policy (or create one if none exists)

Make time to review your company’s existing time tracking policy. And if you don’t have one, set an agenda to create one in the coming months.

  • Develop guidelines where employee time tracking is concerned.
  • Spell out the steps that workers should take if and when they need to leave their shift early, are running late, or extend their break.
  • Be sure they know the consequences of trying to cheat on their time.
  1. Consider a technology upgrade

If your business still tracks time on paper, then you’re leaving the door open to time theft, since paper makes it easier to cheat time than a modern, cloud-based time & attendance system. Even electronic punch clocks aren’t immune from buddy punching. Use this opportunity to explore software solutions, such as stratustime from nettime solutions.

  • With stratustime, you can enable geotracking and geofencing to track employee locations and limit the places they can clock in or out from. GPS tracking lets you pin each employee’s location on a map while they’re on clocked-in so you can track where and when they performed their work duties.
  • The stratustime kiosk system allows construction teams and other off-site workers to clock-in together from a central device using PIN technology.
  • stratustime integrates with biometric time clocks to help prevent buddy punching.
  • stratustime allows for real-time attendance tracking, so that managers can stay on top of hour discrepancies.

Stealing a little time now and then may harmless, but when left unchecked, it can create a difficult cycle for certain businesses to climb out of. Express the importance of honesty with your employees, and let them know you value upfront communication where matters of time are concerned.

Don’t let time theft create an unhappy work environment. Give us a call today. We’ll put stratustime on the clock for you.

Contact a Time & Attendance Expert Today

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