Would it surprise you to know that nearly 75 percent of US businesses are affected by time theft? Most companies don’t notice it. To be fair, it’s likely because most employees aren’t even conscious of doing it either. Unfortunately, it’s costing workplaces $50 billion annually.


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Time theft is defined as the practice of employees charging their employers for time they haven’t actually worked. For example, when employees round up their time sheets to make it easier to add up instead of adding the actual numbers, you’re already losing time. Likewise, when an employee asks someone to punch in for them at work – for whatever reason – you could end up paying for unworked hours. While employees may not intentionally be trying to “steal time”, it can still have a significant impact on your business. How? 

  • Lost revenue can add up. Let’s use an organization with three employees paid $25 an hour, as an example. If each employee arrived five minutes late and left five minutes early every day, that’s 10 minutes of lost time translating to about 43 hours per year. If you do the math, that equals to the business losing $1075 annually. 
  • Employee productivity takes a hit. The average employee statistically steals 4.5 hours per week from their employer. Most do so unintentionally. However, that can still add up to six work weeks per year. That’s time that an employee could have otherwise used for more productive tasks. 
  • Internal employee relationships suffer. Time theft can cause a ripple effect of distrust, negativity, and dissatisfaction across the organization. It could even affect employee morale and create tension that negatively impacts employee rapport. 

Addressing the Issue

Businesses understand that it would be unrealistic to expect staff to devote every single second at the office to work. However, given its serious implications, it’s your responsibility to ensure that time theft doesn’t get out of control.

Here’s what you can do about it:

  • Ensure a culture of transparency with open communication. Be sure to help each team member understand their role in the organization and how they contribute to its success. This gives them a better sense of ownership for the work they deliver.
  • Review and discuss policies with your team. Review each policy and ensure that it is fair and relevant. It’s critical that you implement guidelines that are reasonable for both the business and the team.
  • Enhance accountability by implementing the right technological solutions. A time tracking tool, for example, will boost accuracy and minimize pervasive time theft methods used by employees. There’s no need for manual data entry and reports can be generated in real-time. 

Taking a more proactive stance against time theft makes the problem more manageable. With the right policies and tools, you can easily build a culture that minimizes the negative impact of time theft on your organization, as well as improving trust and rapport in your team.

About the Author:

Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an online employee time tracking app that helps over 8,000 companies all around the world track time. Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing business apps. He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many peoples lives are touched and changed for the better. When he is not perfecting time tracking, Dean enjoys expanding his faith, spending time with family, friends and finding ways to make the world just a little better.

You can find Dean on LinkedIn.

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