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Time theft can be addressed by taking timesheets online

How to prevent employee time theft

Your employees are crucial to the success of your company, but only if they’re truly giving their best effort while at work. Employee time theft can be a major challenge for employees – resulting in loss of income and higher-than-usual staffing costs. The good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent it from happening.

What is employee time theft?

Employee time theft refers to situations where employees are paid for hours they either didn’t work or time during which they didn’t give sufficient effort to their work.

Employee time theft can be hard to detect and can come in many shapes and sizes. For example:
– When an employee comes to work on time yet spends half of their day searching the web
– When an employee is running an hour late for work but gets another employee to sign them in on time, or when an employee asks someone else to clock them on and off for a shift they aren’t rostered for.

When you’re busy managing a company, it can be difficult to monitor these instances as they occur and often evidence doesn’t appear until payroll is processed.

So, how can you put an end to employee time theft in your company? We detail some simple steps below.

Set expectations for the use of work time during the onboarding process

Employee onboarding is a crucial stage of the employment lifecycle. It is at this point that you can clearly communicate to employees exactly what you expect of them during work hours. Let each new employee know that it is not appropriate to clock in for another staff member and that doing so can lead to consequences for both parties. Explain to them that it negatively affects the integrity of staff members, and of the company itself and that it throws out the balance of workplace efficiency.

Outlining what activities are appropriate, and what aren’t, while on shift is also important. For example, staff in retail may think it’s okay to use social media whilst the store is free of customers. Explaining that downtime is for cleaning and restocking ensures that staff are well-informed of their restrictions. Being specific with language is key. Instead of asking “Can you clean that shelf” when there are no customers, say, “When there are no customers, you must always restock the shelves and clean them”. This leaves no space for alternative interpretations of tasks.

Using onboarding software where you can upload training and policy documents is a great way to communicate expectations for work behaviour.

Provide sufficient breaks

No one wants to work 9 hours without some time to stretch their legs and have something to eat. Scheduling sufficient breaks for your staff throughout the working day is a smart way to ensure they give 100% when they’re working.

For example, if a staff member is working a full day, allow them a paid 10-minute tea break in the morning and afternoon, and an unpaid hour lunch break during the middle of the day. When employees know that they’ll definitely get a chance to go for a walk, get a coffee and a snack, and check social media or email, they’re more likely to organise their day around this. As a result, productivity and efficiency should increase.

Schedule intelligently

If your staff have large amounts of time to twiddle their thumbs, it’s likely that you aren’t rostering your staff effectively. For exampl, in retail, weekdays are quieter than weekends so require fewer staff. In hospitality, lunch and dinner hours are busier than mid-morning and afternoon so require more staff. Adapting a roster to reflect these variances ensures that the staff you have scheduled on will always have something to do.

Intelligent scheduling software greatly improves the way you create employee rosters. The right software can examine your wage costings, the efficiency of your employees, your peak work times, who works well together and what contracts each staff member is on, to create an optimum roster. As a result, you’ll roster the right number of staff for each day.

Use a time and attendance system with an inbuilt time clock

As explained, a common source of employee time theft is employees asking others to clock them in when they’re running late. In other cases, employees clock in as soon as they get to work, even if their rostered shift doesn’t being for 30 minutes.

One of the simplest and most effective methods of stopping this kind of employee time theft is to install a reliable time and attendance system. Using a live system with an inbuilt time clock, employees can sign in and out only on the time of their scheduled shift. This way, employees can’t claim extra minutes that they aren’t entitled to. Employees are given unique employee ID numbers to access the time and attendance system, and will need to use those to sign in on each shift. Plus, managers approve each timesheet that the system creates before it is sent to payroll. These systems offer employers a high level of visibility of staff attendance data in real time so that time theft can be identified, and rectified, very quickly.

Track staff performance to keep employees accountable for their efficiency

Tracking staff performance not only keeps you informed regarding each staff member’s efficiencies, but it encourages staff to be on top of their workload. If an employee knows their performance is being tracked, they’re much less likely to waste time at work. Furthermore, by tracking staff performance, you can set personalized goals for each employee so that they understand what they are working towards. A recent survey by found that 35% of employees wasted time at work because they weren’t challenged enough, and 32% did so because there wasn’t any incentive to work harder. Both of these issues can be addressed by tracking performance and setting goals to challenge and engage employees, and providing praise when they accomplish them.

The last word on time theft

Each of the above steps is effective alone. However, they are most effective when used together. The most efficient way to stop employee time theft is to employ an end-to-end HR software that can automatically complete all the above tasks: onboarding employees properly, creating intelligent rosters, and tracking both time and attendance. Implementing this kind of software will not only stop employee time theft, but it will increase the efficiency and profitability of your entire workforce.

Employee time theft can be a financial burden for your business, but you can put an end to it by implementing several checks. Practicing proper employee onboarding, rostering intelligently, tracking time and attendance, and following employee performance will all help banish employee time theft.


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