How much is not having a time tracking program costing you?
Everyone has had a co-worker that shows up right at starting time, marks their time card, and then is back outside parking the car or off to Starbucks for a morning coffee run. Later, that 2 minute water break turns into a 15 minute in-depth discussion about last night’s episode of The Bachelor. Then they’re back on Instagram, uploading a selfie. After a few hashtags, it’s time to clock out 5 minutes early and beat the rush in the parking lot. Something is wrong with this picture.
While this may be an extreme example, employee time theft is a cause for concern in any business. There are 4 different types of time theft, and even honest employees unknowingly commit some of these.
- Malicious time theft – includes blatant dishonest manipulation of time records such as forging time sheets to cheat the system or buddy punching—having a co-worker clock them in/out when they are not actually there.
- Unproductive time theft – employees aren’t paid simply for being in the building, but are asked to be productive while at work. Social media use, not tracking breaks, or extending breaks each fall under this category.
- Misused time theft – everyone has a life outside of work that at times requires attention during work hours. This is a greater concern when it becomes an unnecessary habit. Sick time is allotted to help employees should an illness befall them, but using that resource as a personal day is inappropriate.
- Innocent time theft – it is hard to image any kind of theft as innocent, but it is common for an employee who manually fills out a timesheet to unintentionally miss-record their time. Most employees are honest and do their best to keep accurate time records, but even small, unintentional mistakes can end up significantly costing an employer.
Even simple mistakes can cost you
Paper timesheets were great, but technology has advanced past the use of paper and pencils for data collection. Even employees doing their best to be honest will forget exactly what time they arrived or left for the day. When that question arises, they will tend to round in their favor. If one employee making $10/hour rounds their time up 5 minutes per day when clocking in an out, over a full year they will have been overpaid by more than $300. Multiply that across 10, 20, or 50 employees and the payroll costs multiply. The purpose of a time tracking program is to ensure accuracy as much as it is to prevent malicious theft.
Preventing time theft requires changing attitudes
If someone is determined to be dishonest they will be dishonest. However, requiring employees to be accountable for the time they spend at work will go a long ways to eliminating time theft. Requiring employees, even salaried ones, to keep a record of their time is a great start. Everyone wants to feel part of team and be part of something greater than themselves. Fostering a unified work environment that people enjoy being a part of will increase morale and the desire to work hard.
Choosing a solution
There are hundreds of time tracking programs available. Many of which include features you do not need. Be sure you only pay for the ones you do. Web-based systems are a fine option, but generally require a monthly fee per employee and tend to be significantly more expensive than an on-premise solution. Adding an additional software program may seem like an unnecessary business expense, and you can find an affordable one for less than $100 dollars. The reality is that people will be dishonest or make mistakes that end up costing many times more than the software itself. A time tracking program keeps workers honest and eliminates time inaccuracies. Having accurate records ensures not only that your employees are paid for the hours they worked, but can be a vital reference should a labor dispute arise. Spending a hundred dollars now could literally save you thousands later.