Is Time Theft Costing Your Company Money?

Chances are, business owners do not want to consider that time theft is happening at their companies. After all, doing so means they have to consider the fact that their own employees are “stealing” time, which, for many companies, is as important a commodity as any other.

As it turns out, the vast majority of companies—as many as 75%—are having time “stolen” from under their noses. This is according to an American Payroll Association (APA) study cited here.

Time Theft Is Rarely Malicious, but it’s Often Endemic

Is time theft always malicious, or a sign of employees trying to “get one over” on a company?

Not at all. In fact, time theft can come in many forms, from absentmindedness, to an employee’s desire to “cover their tracks” in a case where they’re accidentally late. Consider these three examples:

  1. Bill arrives at work at 8:05. He heads to his desk, but before he gets there he gets caught up in a casual conversation. He sets his coat down in his work space, then heads to the breakroom for coffee. By the time he finally settles in, it’s 8:20. The first thing he does is enter 8:00 as his start time on his timesheet, since that’s when he pulled into the parking lot.
  2. Suzanne decided to run to the mechanic on her lunch break for one of their famous 15-minute oil changes, which she’d done successfully in the past without being late. Today the shop was running a little behind, but she was stuck in line and couldn’t turn out. By the time she got back to her work space, her hour-long lunch break had turned into 90-minutes. Rather than mark herself down as returning late, she decided to make the time up at the end of the day. However, she wound up leaving at her usual because her of a situation at home.
  3. Brianna leaves her desk at 4:35 to go home. Her shift ends at 5, but many of the other employees in the office have already left, too, and no one in the office ever talks about time and attendance. It doesn’t seem like it really matters, and she doesn’t want to waste management’s time by asking questions. Brianna clocks out at 5.

Neither of these cases sound malicious, right? Calling it time theft doesn’t even seem like the right word. And when viewed through the lens of isolated incidences, they seem innocuous enough. But if you add things up over the long run, and across all employees, the cost to a business can be striking.

Time Theft Costs Companies 7% of Profits

In fact, the APA estimates that time theft can cost companies as much as 7% of their gross profit. So, if your company grosses $1 million a year, $70,000 is flying out the window on account of time theft.

Time theft is not a new issue.

In the 1970s, the global staffing firm Robert Half began surveying executives and business owners from large and small companies to get a sense of how much time their companies were losing to time theft. By 1985, according to Half’s findings, the average employee was “stealing” 4.5 hours per week.

As for today’s employees? According to the same study cited above, 21% of workers who admit to stealing time say they steal anywhere from 30-60 minutes per shift. On the extreme end of the spectrum, losing five hours per week to time theft equals more than 250 hours per year per employee—or 6-weeks of pay.

If your business manually tracks time and attendance, or uses outdated technology, you’re making it easy for employees to find loopholes in the system. Our interactive Time Theft Test is a great way to quiz your knowledge on time & attendance, explore the latest industry data, and more.

Take the Time Theft Quiz

What can you do to cut down on the costs of time theft?

If time theft is a symptom of employee disengagement, or another personnel issue, then one place to start is by examining your company culture. Some questions to consider:

  • What is at the heart of employee dissatisfaction?
  • Is there a core issue that people are upset about? For instance, are they unhappy about the schedule, and have decided to take matters into their own hands?
  • Do your employees feel like they can freely express their displeasure, or approach HR or managers with issues that may feel like are out of their control?
  • What other issues related to time theft have you noticed lately? For instance, are you also dealing with the theft of merchandise, office supplies, or other physical items?

You may also want to review your company’s literature as it relates to time management.

  • Do you have specific policies and procedures in place regarding clock-in/clock-out time?
  • If so, are they clear and concise?

If things have gotten a little too lax where time management is concerned, now is the moment to launch new procedures, or look at an advanced way of tracking time.

With an advanced solution such as stratustime from nettime solutions, your company can dramatically reduce the number of missed clock punches.

  • Your employees will be able to clock-in/clock-out from anywhere, whether they’re working remotely, logging in to a designated kiosk or POS system, or even calling in.
  • As the system administrator, you’ll have an easier time tracking hours, creating and sharing schedules, and more.
  • You and your employees will also have a powerful new way to check PTO accruals, request time off, report sick time and more.
  • Breaks and lunches are easily monitored and tracked.

Shrugging off time theft is not going to make it stop. Rather than burying your head in the sand, or assuming that time theft is part of “business as usual,” consider a different approach: look it straight on, and put systems in place to help your company gain its time back.

Find out if the costs of curtailing time theft are less than what your business is losing to time theft right now. Give us a call today. We’ll put stratustime on the clock for you.

Contact a Time & Attendance Expert Today


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