Author Ally Carter once quipped, “Even the best thief in the world can’t steal time.”  But every day, business owners face payroll losses through “buddy punching” and other forms of employee time theft.

What is time theft?  It occurs when employees accept pay for time they have not worked.  It may seem harmless enough.  One of your team leaves to run an errand at lunch, but is stuck in traffic on their return trip and calls a friendly co-worker to clock back in for them.  Another employee enters 9 a.m. in their time sheet when they actually began work at 9:05 a.m.  Still another ends their day at 5:00 with everyone else, but hangs around talking to co-workers and punches out 10 minutes later, on the way out the door.

A study by Software Advice reported that 43% of hourly workers admitted to exaggerating the amount of time they work during a shift.  A quarter of those surveyed indicated that they overstate their hours fully 76 to 100 percent of the time!  

How does this affect your bottom line?

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Let’s look at a simple example.  You run a call center, employing 14 people, 11 of whom are paid hourly at $10 per hour.  Let’s assume for simplicity sake that they document just 8 minutes extra each day, as in, they arrive at 9:04 am and record their start time as 9:00 am and they leave at 4:56 pm and record their “clock out” time as 5 pm.
In just one year, that costs you just shy of $3800.  $3800!  That incremental cost would cover the hourly rate of another employee for over 2 months.

Wow.


What can be done to mitigate the ability to manipulate your time-keeping system so that employees report hours accurately and payroll costs are managed effectively?  One of the first things to consider is the use of biometric devices that can identify unique individuals.  Fingerprint scanners are straightforward and cost effective biometric tools for time-keeping.  Rather than fill in a time sheet, punch in to time clock, swipe a card or enter a password into a computer, fingerprint scanners require the actual employee to be physically present to clock in.

Geofencing is another feature that helps determine whether an employee is physically at or (as determined by the employer) in close proximity to the job or work site.  Geofencing uses GPS technology to set up a virtual geographic boundary.  You set the radius for the geofence, within which employees can clock in. Your employees simply enable GPS tracking on their mobile device.  If they clock in outside the perimeter of the geofence, you are notified that they are not within the geofence and can determine how you want to deal with that exception.  If you are managing employees at a construction site or home care providers traveling from house-to-house to visit their home-based clients, geofencing helps you accurately track whether and when your team is at their location to more accurately track their hours.

Less than 10 minutes of overstated time per day can add up to thousands of dollars per year, significantly impacting your bottom line.  The investment in the biometric technologies can pay for itself ​several times over in the first six months.  If you’re interested in finding out how much time theft is costing you, click below and find out the impact on your bottom line.