5 Best Practices to Prevent and Detect Employee Time Theft

5 Best Practices to Prevent and Detect Employee Time Theft
Theft overall is a serious problem. With employee time theft, the risk becomes much bigger, as companies will end up losing millions eventually. Factors like procrastination, mismanaged tracking, and low productivity contribute to an inefficient company. An analysis reveals that 25% of companies lose over $1 million to employee time theft, and it desperately calls for a system where it can be detected and prevented. 

Employee time theft is when employees manipulate the system and claim wages for work they haven’t really done. It’s not only unethical but also a blow to the hard-earned money of all those who actually put in the effort. The reason it goes unnoticed is that it takes place in many ways, some of which are:

  1. Buddy punching
  2. Falsified time cards
  3. Unnecessary long breaks
  4. Work on personal devices
  5. Excessive socializing.

Indeed, organizations should be aware of different forms of employee time theft. When this problem isn’t addressed accordingly, it can adversely impact companies in various ways. For example, employee time theft, which involves submitting time sheets for unworked hours, can result in significant financial losses for the organization. And to cope with the losses, they have to reduce payroll expenses by terminating employees, delaying promotions, and giving up raises.  

On the other hand, employee time theft can psychologically impact the entire organization. Conflict and tension between the management and the workforce may arise once strict rules are implemented to prevent theft. These restrictions include identity badges and surveillance cameras. Lastly, in the absence of effective preventive measures, continued employee time theft may lead to workplace problems, such as insubordination, harassment, and violence.  

That said, time theft involving employees can adversely affect an organization’s growth and success. Hence, it’s essential to prevent and detect this problem as quickly as possible to mitigate its negative consequences.  

5 ways to detect and prevent employee time theft

Employee time theft is a major challenge that business owners, managers, team leaders, and co-workers struggle with. If you are one of those, here are a few methods to reduce its role in the company:

1. Use a time-tracking software

There are multiple tools available in the industry that help improve productivity at the office. One amazing way to detect and prevent employee time theft is by using staff time tracking software. A few functions, among many, on the software that are helpful are:

  1. Monitors work activity among employees using live screening and screenshots
  2. Tracks productivity by recording mouse clicks and key clicks on work devices
  3. Records check-in and out time by the employees using live footage
  4. Sends alerts to employees when their estimated break time is complete
  5. Checks time spent on websites
  6. Alerts employees when their monitors are inactive for a long duration.

Therefore, to get the most out of these features, look for the right time-tracking tools or time card apps for your organization. However, you must know that every business has no one-size-fits-all solution. So, choose the one that strongly focuses on the reliability and transparency of employees punching in and out and properly managing employee timesheets. To help you find one of the best time card apps on the market, check out some websites and other reliable resources to get more information.  

2. Establish strict time guidelines 

Whenever new employees join your company, it's better to update them on timing guidelines so that they implement them from the day they join. Having strict timeline guidelines in the company’s policies will ensure that all existing and new ones will not compromise on their productivity.

  1. A set of well-established policies include:
  2. Timing process for checking in and out work hours
  3. Fixed break timings
  4. Time theft and its consequences, if found guilty
  5. Attendance and time tracking methods in the company
  6. Deadline-compliant policy within set timeframes
  7. Socializing rules inside the workplace
  8. Awareness of time theft and training sessions for people

3. Encourage customizable work schedules

Many people like to be in an environment where flexible timing options are available. Being strict about timing may cause disagreements between people and encourage employees to look for other jobs. Ever since COVID, the demand for flexible work hours has increased, and many companies have realized that people can complete their tasks in spite of personal commitments, especially if working remotely. 

Customizing work schedules based on role, location, and other conditions will contribute to the well-being of the person. It can also reduce time wastage, enhance productivity, and improve work quality, considering people are able to live their desired lifestyle. Encouraging flexibility in work, as long as it's done on time, will prevent time theft because:

  1. People will be less stressed and burned-out
  2. They will be more clear in their communication
  3. More people will want to associate/stay with the company
  4. They will perform better
  5. The company will promote a healthy work culture. 

4. Maintain an open communication channel

You can prevent time theft by holding regular meetings with teams. During these meetings, you won’t directly accuse anyone and will also let them know what you expect of them. Include people in the decision-making of the company so that they’ll feel more responsible for the work. An open communication channel will help you observe and connect with disengaged employees. Check in with them and know what’s hindering them from performing well in the company. Provide them with the needed resources so that they can improve, as everyone deserves a second chance. 

5. Take disciplinary actions

If you observe a worker repeatedly stealing time and not completing their tasks, despite offering support and multiple warnings, take strict disciplinary action. Suspension or termination are a few options available. Doing so will also warn employees about committing fraudulent practices in the workplace. 

Conduct proper inquiries when things get out of hand. For theft investigations, bring in a third party to maintain honesty and transparency. Seek legal help where needed so that the concerned employee doesn’t take advantage of the situation in any way possible. Applying such extreme measures should be a rarity, and you should try to prevent time theft as much as is feasible.

Calling out employee time theft

You need to practice healthy working styles in the company that builds more energetic employees. Use strategies to monitor and motivate them to achieve targets within the given work hours. Most importantly, develop a culture that includes openness, trust, and honesty, as it helps avert employee time theft.
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