Ever had to let go of an employee who just doesn’t put in the work they are supposed to? One employee’s lack of professionalism is sure to hinder the overall growth of the company. The cause of this lack of effort comes down to one thing— employee time theft. By not putting in the work during their hours at the office, your employee is stealing time from the company.

But, employee time theft is an issue that every company faces at one point or another. This is why you need systems in place to minimize time theft at your company.

While a majority of your employees would be responsible enough to maximize their time at work and get things done with deadlines, it’s still important to safeguard your work environment and ensure your system keeps people in check. But more importantly, motivated to give their best at work!

Before we dive into the 5 hacks you can set up to avoid time theft, let’s look at the different ways time theft takes place.

Different Employee Time Theft Tactics to Watch Out For

Simply put, employee time theft is when an employee is paid in full by their employer despite not putting in time into their work. This means that the 8 or 9 hours that your employees put in every day at work aren’t put to good use.

A few common employee time theft behaviors include:

  • Long breaks: Employees taking long lunch and coffee breaks is one of the most common time theft activities.
  • Over-socialising: Employees might have a habit of spending too much time socializing with others.
  • Social media: An increasing obsession, checking social media too often can cause a drop in productivity among employees.
  • Taking advantage of leaves: Employees may be taking too many leaves, especially if the company has an unlimited leave policy.
  • Disappearing from work: For work that requires them to travel often, like delivery drivers, home-based specialists, employees may take advantage by disappearing from work for a few hours.
  • Buddy punching: This is when employees ask their co-workers to punch in for them when they are running half an hour or an hour late or when they have to leave work a few hours earlier than their schedule.
  • Browsing for leisure: Some employees may still be at their desks but would be spending their time browsing the internet for their personal requirements rather than getting work done.

Identifying employee time theft is simple. But, if you aren’t regulating your employees and holding them accountable, they are likely to slack off and spend their time in the office doing little work.

5 Hacks to Avoid Employee Time Theft

1. Set cultural expectations

One of the first things you need in place is a well-communicated policy on how employees should ideally be spending their time at the office.

While putting down strict and rigid rules in place might come across as inconsiderate, it’s still important to set down realistic expectations of what working at the office would look like. These expectations can include informing them that social media checking is looked down upon, let them know that lunch breaks are usually an hour at the most, and how important it is to punch into work in a timely manner.

By setting these expectations, your employees step into the workplace trying to be more mindful of how they spend time at work and ultimately, help you minimize employee time theft.

Must read: How to set a team culture that enables a successful workplace

2. Use attendance management tools like AttendanceBot

One of the best ways to implement time management properly is to use apps like AttendanceBot that allow employees to manage their punching in and out of work by themselves.

Instead of having a biometric scanner that employees have to punch into every day, this smart bot can be integrated into your work management tool like Slack to allow employees to punch in within their Slack. The timesheet calculator simplifies time tracking like never before!

With AttendanceBot, your employees can send leave requests straight from their Slack and approval is also done through the approval manager’s Slack, instead of having to refer to your inbox every time.

The bot captures these leaves into its powerful dashboard and gives you a thorough overview of the total leaves that each employee takes. So you can check whether leaves are being misused.

This software can be used smartly for your traveling employees as well. Have employees check into AttendanceBot using their Slack or Microsoft Teams mobile app. This should be done when they arrive at the site of work or start the task at hand. Put in a system where they punch out as soon as the task is done. This way, you can better monitor traveling employees without worrying about time theft.

Must read: Guide to using AttendanceBot for remote working teams

Having a comprehensive time tracking software can go a long way in keeping the team on track.

3. Use time monitoring software like Qbserve

If your employees spend most of their work time on their laptops, you can set up time monitoring software within their laptops to keep them accountable.

A time monitoring software like Qbserve runs in the background, keeping a track of which sites and apps your employee is using, putting them into categories like ‘Reading’, ‘Work’, ‘Leisure’, etc. This ensures that employees don’t spend their hours at work leisurely browsing the internet. Or spending their time on websites that aren’t work-related.

The data pulled by Qbserve can also be looked at during your monthly check-ins with your employees. With such time tracking software, you don’t have to micromanage to ensure that your employees aren’t getting distracted.

Although, this will require you to ask your entire team to download the application on their systems.

4. Have monthly check-ins to ensure KPIs are met

Ensure there isn’t employee time theft at your company by keeping a check on the performance of your employees.

Every employee would be expected to perform above the average targets you’ve set for them. Set up meetings every month end to discuss the work done the previous month. Also, define the targets that the employee has to achieve the next month.

This way, you can prepare your employees for the workload the month ahead. And hold them accountable monthly to ensure they get work done. These monthly check-ins can be done by you as the HR leading the company. Or by the manager in charge of the employee.

Put in place incentives if they over-achieve their targets. And probations if they don’t meet the average targets set in place.

Must read: All-hands meeting: The new must-have to keep your team motivated

5. Have an open-door policy

Sometimes, a strict policy on how to spend time at work can backfire. Employees may not take leave if they are sick, causing harm to their own health. And some may go behind your back when they have emergencies that require them to step away from their desks.

To avoid this, it’s important that you communicate with your employees openly. Let them know that they can come to you with any problems they have, without worrying. Have an open-door policy. Invite employees to inform you when they need to take leave from work for a long period of time.

Let them know that your strictness with attendance and time management does not discount the importance of any emergencies. Or top priorities that the employee may need to attend to.

By putting in place a system for accountability, you can minimize employee time theft. And ensure your company grows at a rapid pace.