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Hiring Advice Engaging your workforce Are your employees guilty of time theft?
Are your employees guilty of time theft?

Are your employees guilty of time theft?

It is popularly said that “time is money”.  Little did we know that “time” could actually be stolen too! Yes, your employees could actually be guilty of time theft under your nose. They might come to work everyday but may not be spending time doing what they are being paid for. “Time Well Scheduled” defines time theft as:

As intangible as time is; this category of deceit is hard to identify. Employees could be guilty of time theft in many ways. Here are the top 3 most common time thefts in the workplace:

1. Time card / time clock or time sheet theft: 

In most companies employees are required to sign in and sign out with one of the many electronic or manual systems; which could include writing down your time in and out, punching employee card etc. What employees tend to do is to give incorrect information about the time they signed in or out. Some staff members ask a friend to punch in their card while they themselves don’t show up for work or come in late.

2. The undue break:

Some employees tend to take lunch or tea breaks very casually; their breaks are extended beyond the time allowed by the company, spending away the time they are paid for. Workers who smoke tend to waste their time even more by taking frequent, unnecessary smoke breaks.

3. Personal time and social media indulgence:

Unknowingly or knowingly, employees spend a lot of time making calls to manage their personal or domestic tasks. Not just this they spend hours on social media, check and send their personal emails and sometimes also indulge in personal online shopping while at work.

Making personal calls and using social media is allowed by most companies but only till an extent, this doesn’t mean that they should abuse this facility and employ the company’s valuable time in personal activities.

Solutions to time theft at the workplace:

“According to studies by the American Payroll Association (APA), almost 75 percent of businesses in the U.S. are affected by what is known as “time theft.” The APA reports that time theft can cost companies up to 7 percent of their gross annual payroll. In other words, a business that pays out $1 million in annual payroll could be losing up to $70,000 each year due to “stolen” time.

To cater to this problem, we can look into two types of solutions to reduce and prevent employees’ time theft:

1. Active monitoring solutions:

The basic and foremost solution to keeping track of your employee’s time is to enable automated attendance software, but this will only help you in curbing attendance time theft; by keeping a fixed track of your workers time in and out.

Step two will be the implementation of screenshot grabbing software. Software that collects screenshots of your employees screen to show you what goes on while at the desk. In addition to this software that can track the applications used on a system, it can also come in very handy in identifying the misuse of a company’s time and resources.

Some businesses go to the extent of monitoring emails, phone calls and vehicle tracking; however this solution is case sensitive. Apply this method only if you think that there is a confirmed case of serious time theft, which then you have to monitor this particular employee closely.

However, using these ‘active monitoring’ methods may backfire on you because by doing this on a general level, it might make your staff members feel untrusted, uncomfortable and that their privacy is at stake. Hence apply this method only at the last resort and perhaps only towards employees with serious time theft issues.

2. Strategic solution:

Monitoring solutions can only control calculated time theft, while most of the other types of time theft are intangible. But why the need of all this anyway? What is more important than finding solutions is understanding the root of the problem. Employers need to understand why an employee is finding ways to kill time, and avoiding doing what he is being paid for. Could it be that the work he is doing does not interest him anymore?

If an organization feels that a noticeable number of employees are guilty of time theft, they must then look at their organization again from various perspectives. Employees’ time theft could simply be prevented with these four methods.

i. Get the right talent for the right job:

The company needs to evaluate whether the person doing a certain job is specialized in that particular field or not, his post interests him or not and whether he is interested in building a career in that particular area of work or not. If a person has taken up a job just to earn while he is still looking “for that perfect job” he will only waste his own time and the company’s.

ii. Create a place everyone loves!

It is a basic requirement for all organizations to make sure that their environment is welcoming, open to criticism, cheerful and a bit relaxed on rules and regulations, in short it should be a place each employee loves to come to everyday!

iii. Implement deadlines:

Tight deadlines and time bound tasks make employees utilize their time better. In order to meet deadlines, they will concentrate on finishing on time and consequently waste less time.

iv. Introduce incentive based tasks:

Once in a while, some tasks can be remunerated if done way earlier than the expected time. Rewards can be in both monetary and non-monetary kinds. This type of goal will motivate an employee to utilize all of his/her time towards completing the given task.

To sum it all, to reduce and prevent time theft at the workplace, an organization must make sure that their employees are motivated by their work and environment so that they can utilize their time towards productive activities. If still there are employees who seem guilty of stealing time, the company must implement automated active monitoring system.

Because ‘time lost’ equals ‘money lost’.

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