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How to Prevent Employee Time Theft

how to prevent employee time theft
Justin Stewart

By Justin Stewart

No business owner likes that time theft happens, but unfortunately, employee time theft exists. We wanted to talk to you about employee time theft in detail so you can prevent it from happening to you or properly address it if it's already occurring. Below you'll read about what time theft is and how often it happens in the U.S. along with a few helpful tips to keep you in the know.

What Is Time Theft?

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Before you're able to prevent employee time theft, you need to know what it is. Time theft is what happens when an employee of yours is getting paid when they aren't working. Time theft isn't the same as paid days off of course, but rather the employee staying clocked in for longer than they were there or rounding their time when punching in their timesheets for the week.

As a business owner, time theft can be scary because someone you trust is stealing from you. Believe it or not, 50% of American employees have admitted to time theft when writing their timesheets. It may just be 15 minutes here and there, but that can easily add up and 15 minutes is still 15 minutes of stolen time.

If every person in the 50% stole a minimum of 15 minutes a week, that is $11 billion dollars companies lose because of their employees, and that's on the low end. There are cases where employees steal much more time than 15 minutes every so often, which can increase how much a company loses.

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What About Buddy Punching?

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Even though buddy punching sounds like something that happens in a wrestling ring, it's something common in businesses everywhere. It may be even more surprising to know that, more people have taken part in buddy punching than you'd think.

Let's say you leave work for the day, and on the drive home, you realize you forgot to punch out. It's an accident, and it happens, we get it.

After you realize this, you call into work and ask your co-worker to punch you out. Unless you later change it to the proper time you actually ended your shift, this can be a form of buddy punching.

If your business uses older versions of time punch software, buddy punching is incredibly easy. If you have two buddies working together, and one needs a few extra hours for some extra cash, they can incorporate their buddy to clock them out at a later time.

Over 15% of employees have admitted to buddy punching for a co-worker, and that's only the people admitting to it. While most employees have good intentions, that's not always the case.

Techniques to Prevent Time Theft

You may be wondering what to do if you find out an employee is committing time theft, or what you can do to prevent things like buddy punching and that's why we've included the following tips to help your business stay in the green!

Get an Employee Attendance Tracking App and a Digital Time Clock

Using an app like Zip Clock will help you keep track of when your employees clock in and out, along with a few other helpful features. With an employee attendance tracking system you know John works 11 to 7 on Friday and Jane works 1 to 9, if John clocks out at 9, you'll be able to see that right from the palm of your hand.

You can talk to both employees and see if John stayed late to help Jane close or if there is some time theft involved using the buddy punching system. Chances are, you're not at the brick and mortar store 24/7 which is even more of a reason that this app is a must for business owners.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

Have a Policy Regarding Employee Attendance

Having a policy in place that every employee is aware of is a great way to prevent time theft from happening in the first place. Letting your employees know what you take it seriously and will give out the necessary consequences can keep them from doing it. You can even have them sign something upon hiring that states they are aware of it and will not take part in it.

Set Up Cameras Near the Digital Time Clock

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Setting up a camera that points at where employees clock out can help you track who clocks out when. Getting a camera that has audio and timestamps will help you compare time and possibly hear if one employee calls another to have them clock them out. You're also able to see what's happening on the screen if the camera can zoom in.

Another great reason to have a camera is to see if employees are stealing time by not working. Some businesses allow your staff to stand around while others consider it time theft. Having a camera, you'll be able to see if your employees are doing their job or if they're standing around on their phone.

Update Your Employee Attendance Tracking System

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There are plenty of different types of software businesses use to keep things running smoothly. There are inventory apps or scheduling apps that work great, but what about a time clock? There are software products available that allow employees to clock in using their fingerprints or face.

A digital time clock will not function if someone tries to bypass it by using a co-workers fingerprint or photo to try to incorporate the buddy system. If time theft is a common occurrence where you work, it could be worth the money to invest in software like this.

Chances are, you're employees are honest and hardworking people. You can use some of the tips above and knowledge you've learned to prevent things like time theft and buddy punching from happening. The apps linked above can help keep you informed on who clocks out when and allow you to keep an eye on your company even when you're not there. If it is already happening, it's best to have an honest conversation with your entire staff so they're aware of what is happening as well as what the consequences are for this behavior.

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