What Is Time Theft, And How To Prevent It?

Nov 02, 2022
Did you know that employees who steal time cost businesses $50 billion each year? Time theft in the workplace is a common and expensive issue. It takes years for employers to find out that an employee is stealing time. The longer it goes on, the more expensive it becomes. Small differences add up over months and years of fraudulent time reporting. However, companies frequently overlook the potentially serious consequences of misreported time. The average employee steals 4.5 hours of wages per week when there is extra time on time cards. This type of theft can have serious financial consequences. According to Statistic Brain, it is responsible for up to 33% of business bankruptcies! So, how to prevent employee time theft? In this article, we will read about all aspects in detail.

What is Time Theft?

Time theft has many different names. It is also known as "timesheet fraud" and "time stealing". In a nutshell, time theft occurs when employees bill their employers for the time they did not work. Apart from the cost of paying for work that yields no results, a team member who steals time creates a costly ripple effect within your organization. It will not only result in less productivity but also discourage a hardworking employee from knowing another earns the same amount of money for less work and poorer results.

Why Does Time Theft Happen?

Employees commit time theft for various reasons, including dissatisfaction with their job, being petty, or simply being lazy. Sometimes, they commit time theft by accident or because their employer does not fully understand their job role. Some other reasons for time theft are:
  • Employee burnout
  • Financial trouble
  • Poor supervision
  • Lack of motivation
  • Workplace culture
  • Lack of accountability and guidance

How Does Employees' Behavior Causes Time Theft?

The longer you wait to address time theft, the worse it will become. A team member who is hesitant at first may become more confident as they continue without consequences. So, business owners need to understand how employees steal time to detect this costly issue.

Buddy Punching

Buddy punching is a major issue for many employers. It's often as simple as one employee handing over his swipe card to a colleague so she can punch in on his behalf. In this method, one friend punches in for another, even if they have time clocks. The problem is exacerbated for employers who use paper timesheets to track time, as it is almost too easy for one employee to sign in for a friend. On the other hand, Buddy punching can be avoided with special employee tracking software. Software like Coexsys can read individual faces, fingerprints, and handprints.

Rounding up the time

If your company tracks time on paper, employees have plenty of opportunities to lie about how many hours they've worked. Employees can easily adjust their time if you allow them to plug in their time via a program, such as an Excel sheet. Employees frequently round up the time. For example, if an employee leaves the office at 5:55, they will round up to 6:00. (According to statistics, employers in the United States lose $11 billion per year due to time theft.)

Prolonged or Extended Breaks

This term refers to employees who do not return from breaks on time. For instance, if the break time is only half an hour and an employee takes an hour, this comes under prolonged or extended breaks. In fact, for some employers, even a five-minute unapproved extension can be known as time theft.

Unplanned and Unexplained Absence from the Job

Absenteeism does not always imply being absent from work for a full day or two. Employees who take unnecessarily long breaks, arrive late or leave too early also indicate absenteeism. This also casts doubt on employees' commitment to their jobs, giving them the wrong impression. Moreover, this is also considered time theft.

How To Prevent Employee Time Theft

Luckily, you can find many ways to prevent employee-time theft. Let's take a look at these ways.
  • Use time clock software like Coexsys

Coexsys is an employee scheduling tool that helps employers track when their employees are working. This software helps employers know that employees consistently punch in at the correct time when they start working their shifts. Besides this, this time tracking software will also keep track of your early and late punches.

  • Make clear rules

Mention all rules for clocking in and clocking out in the employees' handbook. Make sure to keep information specific to avoid any sort of misunderstanding. Also, make a list of the penalties for each type of time theft.

  • Don't micromanage

No employees like micromanagement. They feel that it is not respectful, and the management has doubts about their capabilities. As a result,

Employees who are micromanaged believe that they are not respected, and that management does not trust them to do their jobs. As a result, frustration builds, and employees are less likely to feel bad or guilty when they steal time. You can make it less likely that your employees will steal time by giving them some space and having faith in their ability to do their jobs

  • Treat employees with respect

Furthermore, many employers are unaware that by mistreating their employees, they may be increasing the likelihood of time theft. Indeed, one study found a link between time theft and supervisors' narcissistic tendencies — the more narcissistic a manager is, the more likely time theft will occur.

Wrapping up the post

As we've seen, employee time theft is not something to be taken lightly unless you want to lose a lot of money to a problem that could have been avoided. There are many ways to stop this kind of theft, but one of the easiest and most reliable is to use time clock software like Coexsys. With time-tracking software, you can stop employees from stealing time and make the workplace a happier place at the same time. Remember that the goal is not to punish people but to cut down on time theft.

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