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Latest News / COVID-19 / Innovation & technology / Managing time & attendance

Stealing time: why time theft is a profit-killer in the hospitality industry

Employee time theft is one of the most important factors affecting the profitability of your hospitality business. It’s not a new problem, but with already slim profit margins shrinking further thanks to the pressures of Covid-19, it is one that simply can’t be ignored.

Time theft happens when staff get paid for time they didn’t work, or get paid when they are at work but are not actually working. This can be the result of human error – for example, when staff take unscheduled breaks or mistakes are made on hand-written time sheets. Sometimes, time theft can be a more deliberate attempt by an employee to get paid more than they are entitled to.

A report on time theft released by Software Advice found a staggering 25% of employees exaggerate the hours they work, more than 75% of the time. This can equate to tens of thousands of dollars a year, which is simply not viable when businesses in the hospitality industry have been hit so hard by recent world events.

The good news is, the hospitality industry is evolving fast; new technologies are constantly being developed to minimise time theft and increase operational efficiencies, allowing you and your team to focus on what matters most: providing an exceptional experience for your customers.

Do away with the paperwork

Tracking exactly when your employees are working is an essential first step towards preventing time theft, but if you’re still relying on paper time sheets this can be almost impossible to achieve. Issues including unclear handwriting and accidental data entry errors can quickly result in staff being paid for hours they did not work.

Going paperless will make recording your team’s hours incredibly simple, and removes the risk of accidental errors. Roubler’s time and attendance software lets your team easily clock in and out of their shift and record break times from the convenience of their mobile phone or a tablet located in your staff common area.

Create a culture of accountability

Be upfront with your team and make sure they understand why it’s important for them to record their hours accurately. They may be genuinely unaware of the negative impact taking an extra five minutes for their lunch break each day is having on your business, so if you haven’t clearly articulated this, now is the time to do so.

You could also try setting targets for staff, and incentivising good behaviour by rewarding the team member who consistently clocks in out over a month-long period. If your team members feel like they are not going to hit their targets, or as though they are ‘letting the side down’, they are more likely to up their game.

Verify the facts with technology

Time clocking systems can have one downfall: there is often nothing to prevent friends covering for friends, and checking out on their behalf long after they have actually left the building. The best software has built-in measures to prevent this from happening.

Roubler has a biometric facial verification feature that takes a photo of employees when they clock in or out. Artificial intelligence technology then compares the images taken against those already stored in the employee’s profile. Should any discrepancies arise, the employee’s timesheet will display a message informing managers of a mismatch. Talk about nipping time theft in the bud!

What’s more advantageous is facial verification works even when your employees are covered up – masks and all – helping you maintain a safe and hygienic workplace amidst Covid-19.

Be understanding

Everyone needs a break now and then, and when your team is putting in long shifts day after day, they may sometimes need to take a moment to themselves, so they can give it their all when they are actually working.

Be flexible with your approach, and if you know an employee is doing the right thing 99% of the time, don’t penalise them for arriving two minutes late for their shift. By showing generosity and understanding that everyone is human, you’ll build their trust, and they will be more likely to do the right thing in the future.

Keep up with the latest in Roubler’s news on our LinkedIn with tips and tricks along the way.

Fleur Murphy
Fleur Murphy is a strategic thinker and marketing leader with a passion for all things SaaS. With her drive to build strong brands and genuine desire to create value for customers, Fleur has helped software companies across Australia, the USA, UK and Asia achieve tangible results from their marketing activities. As Head of Marketing at Roubler, Fleur focuses on strategies to help shift-based workforces get the most out of their business technology.
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