Guest Post by Michael – Time theft in the workplace is more common than some may believe. However, it is not always easy to detect. Time theft occurs when an employee does not put in the appropriate amount of work or time into their shift, yet are still accepting pay for work that may not have been done. Office time theft can take place in several different ways and on many different levels of severity. Below are some common examples of time theft that occurs in the workplace:
1. Time Card Fraud: Time card fraud is a more serious form of workplace time theft. This occurs when employees lie on their time card about the hours worked during a shift (i.e. an employee arrives late, but clocks in as arriving early or on-time). Another type of time card fraud is known as “buddy punching,” when one employee clocks in for another absent employee. This is more common within larger companies.
2. Over-Extended Break Time: A common type of time theft in a workplace is excessive break time. Employees are allotted a specific amount of time for breaks each day within their place of work, but often times employees will over-extend the amount of time they spend on break. When this happens frequently and the amount of time they go over during a break becomes excessive, then time theft becomes an issue.
3. Excessive Personal Time: As is common in most workplaces, employees often need to use some time during the workday to address small personal matters. However, when this privilege is abused and too much time is spent on personal matters, such as making and taking many personal calls, or checking and sending non-work related emails, the issue of office time theft arises.
4. Using Technology for Non-Work Related Purposes: Every office is different from the next and has different levels of lenience when it comes to employees using the Internet and cell phones in the office. However, no matter what your office allows, when more time is spent on things such as social network sites, surfing the web or texting than on actual work, this enters into the realm of time theft.
How to Prevent Time Theft
Since workplace time theft is difficult to detect, it is important to focus on preventative measures and employee accountability. Often times, employees are not always aware that they are committing an act of time theft, and once it is brought to their attention, their behavior makes a turn for the better. It is important to openly communicate with your employees and keep them up to date with the company’s policies on break time, Internet and cell phone usage and punctuality.
Biometric Time & Attendance Software
Another great way to keep employees accountable for your time and their own is to use a time and attendance software system. A system like this would work in conjunction with a biometric device (fingerprint scanner, retinal scanner, etc) and would allow for easier, more accurate monitoring of employees’ logged hours. As well, replacing the time card system with a biometric time and attendance system would prevent time theft in the form of “buddy punching” and employee time card fraud, two more serious forms of workplace time theft.
Outlining Company Policies
To prevent employees from over-extending their breaks on a regular basis, try to clearly outline your company policies to all of your employers. This can be done through a meeting, or a workplace memo, and even more importantly during the hiring process for new employees. As well, take a look at your current break time policies. Are you allotting enough time for your employees to take a proper break? Or are your employees finding they don’t have enough time to do what they need to do during breaks? Ensuring proper break times for our employees will help to prevent the need to over-extend their breaks. A biometric system will also help detect when employees are logging in and out for breaks.
Depending on the work environment in your office, it may be necessary to allow your employees some personal time, calls, etc. especially for parents in the workplace. However, in order to prevent this from being abused, it is important to monitor employees who seem to be spending an excessive amount of time on personal matters. If this becomes a regular issue for some, schedule a meeting with those employees and discuss the matter at hand. Written warnings should be given if necessary.
Monitoring Software/Website Blockers
A great way to prevent Internet time theft is to invest in monitoring software for your office that tells you who is using the Internet when and for what purposes. Monitoring your employees’ usage of the Internet can tell you who are abusing their Internet privileges and can help you prevent time theft within the office. Not only can you monitor what your employees are doing online, but you can implement website blockers that allow you to block specific websites from being accessed in the office (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) Along with this software, it is important that your employees are up to date on office policies and what is and isn’t allowed in your workplace. Often times, employees are simply uninformed and become more productive when they clearly understand the rules of the office.
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