Your Employees Steal Work Time? What can you do about it?

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Since the invention of the first clock, employers have been monitoring their staff’s work time.

And there are many advantages in doing so. Time tracking allows you to recognize the areas where your employees’ time could be better spent, thus improving general efficiency.

With workforce becoming more and more computer-based, time tracking is becoming the main way of keeping tabs on staff who may be spread out across other regions and even other countries.

Time Theft

As well as improving efficiency, an automated time tracker is necessary to prevent time theft. This is where employees take payment for time they have not spent working on tasks.

It is estimated that an average employee “steals” from 4 to 5 hours a week from their company, which adds up to one full working week per an employee every year – costing businesses hundreds of billions of dollars a year worldwide.

Time theft comes in a different colors and is always difficult to find.

  • Time sheet fraud. When employees are responsible for logging their work hours, the practice of rounding up to the nearest hour or lying about hours worked is considered timesheet fraud.
  • Break abuse. This is the most widespread way of time theft and means taking longer or more frequent breaks than it is allowed by a schedule; a charge frequently levelled at smokers (smoking kills, and it kills time too).
  • Personal business, private phone calls, texting, and spending work time on Facebook are all forms of time theft. Extreme cases include using a company’s time and resources to start or support a separate business.

Are you using a time tracker?

Not paying attention to losses incurred through time theft and efficiency gains to be had from a time tracker, there is a  philosophy that considers time tracking a non-efficient practice.

Proponents of this point of view argue that physical tracking of employees does not mean accurate monitoring of productivity.

Similarly, a time clock can tell when an employee punches in, but has no way of recording the tasks they engage in before they punch out.

Employees’ Trust

A greatest objection of those opposed to time trackers is that it creates a feeling of mistrust within a company.

If staff members are required to constantly report what they do, or are placed under total personal or electronic supervision, they are likely to feel that they are not trusted by their CEO.

And if they don’t feel trusted, then they don’t feel valued either and this can lead to disturbance, reduced work efficiency, high staff turnover and all the problems associated with a negative corporative culture.

Rather than checking up on their employees, opponents of time tracking trying to prove that managers should trust their teams and let them know that they are fully trusted.

In CrocoTime our experience have shown that if employees feel their significance, they are more likely to work more, take more responsibility and need less supervision than those who are treated like children who must be watched at all the  time.

Is Time Tracking Really Inevitable?

Some people would argue yes and there is a multi-million dollar time tracking industry to prove it. Others can argue that good employees morale is more significant and more profitable in the long time than any short-term efficiency gains made through time tracker use.

Maybe, as in most cases, moderation is the best. You may just be able to have the best of both worlds if you:

  • Clearly spell out to your employees what is considered reasonable use of work time, while still being flexible enough to allow for the odd long lunch, personal phone call, text, or check-in on social media (the official social media use policy is strongly recommended);
  • Use only reasonable recording measures to streamline your payroll procedures like  an automatic time tracker;
  • Set clear goals and KPIs and measure employees’ performance by whether they meet the goals, rather than focusing on how they achieve them and how much time it takes.
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