The True Cost of Counterproductive Work Behavior: Time Theft
What is CWB?
The Problem With Time Theft
As we mentioned, time theft has negative impacts on both your organization and on your employees. So it’s important to recognize the serious implications of time theft and implement actionable plans to prevent and avoid future violations.
So why is time theft so common if we know this counterproductive work behavior is so costly? Because employees can easily take advantage of inaccurate time tracking systems, making it difficult to properly track legitimate time entries. Manipulating paper timesheets and having other employees clock in on their behalf (also known as buddy punching), for example, are ways that employees can exploit the mismanagement of time and attendance. Additionally, if HR managers or supervisors were to try personally monitoring employee time and attendance more closely, it would mean spending their time inefficiently. Co-managing and “babysitting” employees clocking in and out is a task no HR manager wants nor has time to undertake.
How Time Theft Affects You
Time theft, or employees being paid for time they have not actually worked, affects almost 75% of U.S. businesses, according to a study conducted by the American Payroll Association (APA). Stealing company time may seem like a mild transgression, but this can cost companies up to seven percent of their gross annual payroll.
Imagine this in dollar terms: for every $1,000,000 in payroll wages paid, $70,000 is paid for hours that employees didn’t actually work. That’s an alarming amount of money that your company could be saving or putting towards other more productive efforts.
How Time Theft Affects Your Employees
In addition to being costly, time theft can further impact your company by diminishing employee productivity and morale.
This negative behavior impacts the quality of work produced by the employee engaging in time theft, but can also negatively affect the productivity of other employees in the company as well. If others see their efforts, work, and timeliness is not recognized and there is no consequence for time theft, some employees might be tempted to see how far they can push their boundaries as well. When this counterproductive work behavior is perceived as acceptable behavior, it will spread like wildfire. Because what’s a few minutes here and there, right?
Likewise, creating a company culture in which time theft is common and lacks clear expectations can be extremely frustrating and demoralizing for employees. Seeing time theft go unnoticed by management can cause employees to feel distrust and dissatisfaction with their superiors and company.
Eliminating Time Theft
Organizations should take the time to evaluate their current time tracking procedures to identify leaks in their systems. Auditing their time and attendance systems and implementing an electronic or online solution can save HR managers time, companies money, and improve the bottom line. Eliminating the possibility of inaccurate time tracking and time theft with a cloud-based time tracking solution that syncs attendance data with payroll data will increase accountability for hours worked and ensure accurate pay.
Desktop or Kiosk Time Capture
Employees can clock in by logging into their work desktop or an assigned company kiosk with personal identification numbers. The time of login is recorded automatically for a specified pay period.
Mobile Time Capture
Mobile time capture using GPS tracking can be a better solution for those organizations in and out-of-office setting. Rather than using a kiosk that must be on-site, companies can permit employees to clock in using their mobile devices through a mobile app once they are within a designated area.
The most secure way to eliminate buddy punching is by requiring employees to clock in using biometric verification. This solution requires unique identifiers like fingerprints, hand geometry, or facial recognition.
Rounding rules and attendance options decided upon by HR administrators allow for more control and visibility of the time recorded within the system. This company-level setting will round employee punches up or down to the nearest interval, reducing the “theft” of unworked time. Additionally, automatic deductions for lunches or scheduled breaks will be subtracted from an employee’s hours based on the number of hours they’ve worked in shift or day.