In tough financial times, businesses try to streamline their operations to run as inexpensively as possible. They may reduce business hours, lease less property, or make changes to products and services. One lesser known strategy for reducing expenses is to tackle the problem of time theft.
What is time theft?
Time theft is a worker getting paid for work they did not actually do, and it costs Canadian businesses as much as $5 billion per year. As you can imagine, time theft has a big impact on the financial success of businesses, and it could be hurting yours.
Let's take a look at some of the ways time theft could be eroding your company’s profits.
1. A faulty "punch card" system.
Employers have different ways of clocking their employees' hours, and sometimes employees figure out how to manipulate the system so it looks like they're working more than they actually are. This happens when employees "punch in" for each other or find a way to clock in remotely. If you feel that there are inefficiencies or "holes" in the way you track employee hours, take a close look at your system. Your bottom line could be severely affected by this form of time theft.
2. Personal time on the phone.
Everyone has to make personal phone calls from time to time, and sometimes it's necessary to handle personal matters during business hours. Every employer understands this. But when employees make a habit of spending time on personal phone calls while they're supposed to be working, they are committing time theft. In essence, you are paying them to handle their personal lives instead of paying them to complete the work they agreed to. Review your company's policies about personal phone time, and inform employees that they must abide by these policies.
3. Tardiness, long breaks, and leaving early.
This form of time theft is not as common for hourly employees, but it's not uncommon with salaried workers. When employees stretch a 30-minute break to 45 minutes, and when they come in late or leave early, they are stealing from your company. If this is a chronic problem in your company, re-evaluate your procedures for managing your employees' time on the job. Does a supervisor need to pay more attention to break times? Do you need to schedule early morning meetings to hold employees accountable for arriving on time?
4. Non-work computer usage.
The Internet is a minefield of distractions, and it's all too easy for employees to let their attention stray away from their work while they're on the computer. There are many things you can do to help your employees avoid this time theft temptation. Turn computer screens toward a public area so anyone walking by can see what's on the screen. Instruct your system administrator to block social media sites and YouTube. During your training and instructional meetings, remind employees that their work computers are for just that: work. And help them to develop good work habits and standards for themselves that will help them to be more productive employees.
By paying attention to time theft and how it affects your company's productivity, you can save money and improve your employees' work. For more information about time theft, or to discuss other human resource and payroll issues, contact us at The Payroll Edge. Our payroll experts can help you to find solutions to your problems.