With the ever-increasing ways of remote working, employee time theft is becoming one of the major concerns for the organizations. Employee time theft occurs when an employee charges for the time they have not worked, or when they were away from work. With easy access to the internet and mobile work setup, time theft has become a major issue for organizations resulting in extra spending on the workforce with lower productivity.
In earlier days, keeping a watch on employees was easy when there was not much work outside the scope of the office. There would be dedicated systems in which companies used to install only office-related software for their employees to use. And they needed to come to the office, and leave right on the agreed time. There was hardly any scope of employees stealing time out of their work. There would be fixed break hours, and the rest of the time, they would sit on their desk performing their regular duties.
But now, things are not that simple anymore. There are myriads of software installed on the employee’s workstation. Many companies allow their employees to work from their PCs as well. And with access to the internet, they can be spending hours on websites that are not relevant to their work without anyone noticing them.
So, how can you identify this loophole in your organization, and how can you fix it. Before going into the solution, let us look at some of the ways remote employees use to steal time.
How do employees commit time theft?
To give you an idea of how time theft affects your business, here are some employee time theft statistics.
- According to a study by Robert Half International, employers lose between 4 and 5 hours a week for every employee.
- Another employee time theft statistics by Software Advice reveals that one in every four employees exaggerates their amount of time worked by around 75% of the time.
So, if you can see so much gap in what you expect from your employees and what they are giving, you should know how they usually commit time theft, so that you can fix them in your company.
Here are some of the ways employees commit time theft.
#1 Deceiving the timer
If you are still relying on the manual entry of time logged by your employees, then know that you are losing it big time. This is the most common way of time theft, where employees usually enter additional time than actual in their timesheets.
And if you have a punch machine installed on your doors where employees punch their access cards to record the in-time and out-time, then they usually wait for extra hours to punch the log-out hours.
#2 Proxy attendance
This is another common form of time theft when an employee gives their swipe card to a pal to punch in the timer on their behalf. Big organizations commonly observe it, where it is usually hard to keep track of every employee. But companies have found a workaround for this kind of activity. Through biometric attendance, where employees have to use their fingerprints for swiping in and out, they can tackle this problem of proxy attendance.
#3 Miscellaneous activities during work hours
Employees give in to various kinds of temptations during work hours that distract them from their regular work. That includes chatting with colleagues, attending personal phone calls, engaging in chat on phone, extended breaks, etc. While these activities seem short during the time they are happening, when summed up for a whole day or a week, they add up to a considerable share of time that employees lose in these activities.
#4 Internet usage
This is another form of employee time theft that is mostly applicable to remote employees as well. With access to every website on the internet, employees can spend hours on non-official related websites serving their personal needs. They can be engaged in checking personal emails, browsing through their back accounts, studying their investments related material, checking news, etc. There is a huge amount of time they waste on these websites.
How to Prevent Time Theft?
With so many options that employees have to steal time out of their daily work schedule, you need to work strictly on establishing the rules to avoid those gaps. Here are some of the ways you can prevent time theft in your organization.
Clearly communicate the rules
While this may sound like a fraud to you when an employee is punching another employee’s card on the timer, it may seem pretty normal to them. They must be having their reasons for doing such activities as they may think that they are doing a favor for their colleague to save them from getting into trouble.
While this will all become a natural part of their job, you need to do something to remind them about their wrongdoings. It would be a good idea to paste a notice beside the punching machine that clearly says that it is prohibited for them to punch someone else’s card. And if they fill up their hours in a time-sheet on a computer, then send them a monthly or weekly reminder that says that when you catch them filling extra hours, it can cost them their job because of integrity issues.
Communicate their duties
In many cases, employees assume that waiting time is not equivalent to wasted hours in their job. They might be doing time theft without even realizing it. Hence, you must communicate their duties to them clearly, and the set of protocols they must follow in their regular working day. Tell them that it is not ok for them to simply sit idle, or play on their smartphone, while they are waiting for someone else to revert to their queries or some other dependency.
Instead of wasting those hours, you can tell them what other jobs they can do in their waiting hours. For example, they can clear up the extra space by deleting all the unnecessary files on their system, or they can fine-tune their computers for better performance while they are waiting for any dependent job to finish.
Take Disciplinary Measures
When you give too much freedom to the employees, then it might even stop occurring to them that time theft is a bad practice, and it would become their habit. Hence, you need to timely take disciplinary measures to make them aware of the fraud practice they are following at work. You can take a progressive approach towards disciplining them that starts with a verbal warning, then a written warning, then a suspension for a few days, which finally leads to termination.
Taking strict measures gives them a sign that while you don’t mind them spending a few minutes socializing between work, if they are deliberately doing time theft, then you can be as strict as terminating them from their job.
Using a Time management software
This is the most advanced way of preventing time theft. There are many tools available in the online market that allow you to analyze the work hours of your employees. Out of all those tools, EmpMonitor provides the best solution for the time theft problem that companies face today. It can work wonders for your in-house employees to remote employees.
It can measure the time your employees are spending on each program. You can also see what websites they are visiting. Out of all the programs on their workstation and out of all the websites they browse, you can tag them as productive and non-productive. Based on that, EmpMonitor will generate a comprehensive report that shows the total productive and non-productive hours for each employee.
You can also see them at the holistic level of a department. And if you have your teams in several locations, then you can see their total productivity location wise as well. There are many more benefits of using this time management software that you will discover once you start using it. Hence, this adds up to the final and the best way to prevent employee time theft.
While it is advisable to use any of these time theft prevention measures in your organization, make sure that you don’t overdo this practice to the extent that it starts hampering your most productive employees as well. Remember that not all employees are the same. Some might be already giving their best at work, and your preventive measures might hit them unfavorably.
Hence, before implementing these measures, make sure to communicate to your employees the importance of implementing employee analysis measures. Most likely, they would understand the importance of it when you help them realize the benefit that would add to your overall business. Your overall growth of the business should be tied to your employees’ growth as well. Giving them timely appraisal would keep them motivated and prevent them from committing wrong practices in their work life.