Last week we have shared the first part of our list of top 20 ways the employees are stealing working time. While those were all valid ways of stealing a few hours every month, we have kept the worst and most dangerous types of theft for the second article.
· We have received a lot of feedback from companies who face these issues and some even from employees. Some of these were:
· It’s very important to have a clear employment contract, which employees have read and understand
· At the end of the day, in the case of employees systematically cheating, there is no way around firing them
· Sometimes, it’s o.k. to create a whistle-blower system, where employees are encouraged to communicate problems to management. One person’s cheating can hurt the entire team/company
Here are the other 11 ways employees may try to steal working time.
Many companies, especially with office-type jobs, strive to develop and train their workforce. Employees are often encouraged to seek out training and learning opportunities. This, however, leaves room for signing up for non-existent training or skipping real ones partly or entirely. Besides theft of time, this might also be a waste of funds in case of paid training.
It can be surprising, how long it takes to get from point A to point B if an employee wants to slack off. This happens typically with employees who do occasional shopping and/or visit customers. Meetings take longer, there are lines in stores, traffic is a mess… you name it. But if driving 10km routinely takes over 2 hours then you likely have a problem on your hands.
Some employers have started using time tracking apps on mobile phones. This measure, however, did immediately get hit by a counter “technique”, as employees turn off GPS or mobile data on their phones. The 3 most common explanations are: App didn’t work; GPS consumes too much battery; App consumes costly web-traffic. All of which are, unfortunately, are just a way of trying to hide the time theft.
Remote work has become a norm in many sectors and is definitely a very healthy thing from both efficiency and company culture perspective. It is also, however, a work type, which screams to be stolen. Start later, finish earlier, have a long lunch and go shopping midday. Even most dedicated employees can lose time in home-office, without proper discipline.
This one is very common, unfortunately, with sales reps and project managers. Even though we are moving towards digital in communications, face-to-face customer contact is still very important. It is however easy for less scrupulous employees to do the contact digitally in 10 minutes then going ahead and claiming to be doing a 2-hour long meeting with travel.
There are 2 cases, where this type of theft is common:
· Outbound calling positions, which require a certain number of call to be made
· Support positions, which spend time on the phone answering customer queries
In both cases, employees have been knowing to either fake having a call, while actually just slacking off or having someone call them to pretend to be having a work-related conversation.
These types of time theft are in most cases definitely grounds for contract termination. They are, however, rooted mostly in lack of motivation of the particular employee. If you can fix the motivation, then the time theft might go away too. But you can definitely catch the thieves by implementing various technological tools, including chats, apps etc.
While this type of time theft is most common in manufacturing environments, it can actually happen nearly anywhere. Offenders will likely be claiming to have spent a disproportionate amount of time on cleaning/fixing something caused by other workers/customers. And while sometimes they actually would have engaged in some sort of contingency, it would mostly be a passive-aggressive way of hiding their inefficiency.
This tactic is employed to delay/slack off work and, likewise, to avoid doing a task, which employee does not want to engage in. This is actually quite dangerous, as destroying any kind of equipment can lead to a variety of unexpected mechanical consequences. This is also quite financially damaging, as the company loses not the only time of saboteur, but also of other employees. There may also be extra costs associated with fixing the damage.
Common in situations, where management is not present at all times and time tracking is done by simpler systems. We have seen many HoReCa organizations suffering from employees punching in their colleagues in the morning. This kind of group effort to cheat is very dangerous, as it is both toxic to the work environment and a company may have to replace entire teams to “start fresh”.
While not always a bad thing, employees may try to grow the volume of their overtime hours, as these are paid with a factor of 1.25-2. In more serious situations you may see employees working with minimal efforts for entire shift only to do 2-3 hours of overtime to make up for low efficiency. In most cases, overtime (and paying for it) has to be authorized by management, but lack of workforce essentially forces companies to pay. Middle managers are normally aware of this tactic but turn a blind eye to “allow colleagues to earn an extra 100 euros”.
Last, but not least, is the actual meddling with timesheets of the past month. There are all sorts of distortions, which employees engage in to either hide their absence or boost number of working hours. From destroying paper timesheets and deleting files to making changes to various records. Alongside sabotage of equipment, this is the most “dangerous” type of theft, as it is clearly seriously malicious. Also, especially in the case of electronic timesheets, some manager may get involved.
All of these tactics are quite obvious if you pay attention. Employees might try to disguise these, but it takes just one alert to uncover the dishonest practice. While in some cases a warning or monetary penalty may be enough, you are likely looking at people to be fired. Extra technological checks and critical thinking will let you spot the perpetrators.
As minutes turn into hours and hours turn into days, lost and stolen working time becomes a very real hit to the bottom line. We are not saying that all employees are stealing but rather pointing out that employers are often too relaxed about inefficient worktime usage.
It also doesn’t mean that everyone should punch-in and out at the minute but, at the very least, an employer should have an objective picture of what’s going on.
To see, how a modern worktime management solution can help you fight worktime theft CLICK HERE and try to Begin for free.