Home Business Prevent Employee Time Theft at Your Office

Prevent Employee Time Theft at Your Office

Intentional or unintentional, employee time theft can be costly for your business. 

Image courtesy of Pexels

It’s been reported that many employees steal approximately 4.5 hours per week from their employers. That means that they are paying employees for time that they are not actually being productive during their shifts. When time is money, every minute your employees steal from you is hurting your bottom line. 

Whether it’s clocking in 5 minutes early each day, buddy punching, or slacking off in between customers — it’s a problem many companies experience. In many cases, it may not even be an intentional act, but employees need to understand the cost of their actions. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at a few different ways you can prevent time theft and increase the productivity of your employees. Here’s a quick look at what we’ll cover:

  • Different ways your employees can be committing time theft
  • How using an advanced time clock software can help prevent time theft
  • Why you need to set clear expectations for your employees
  • The importance of having a disciplinary process in place for time theft

Employees who spend more time on their social media channels than doing work can be a huge time and money sucker. This is just one of the many ways employees could be committing time theft at your office. Image courtesy of Pexels

How to Prevent Time Theft in Your Office

Sometimes even your best employees slip up a little. It’s important to set realistic rules and expectations for your employees and make sure they all know that they are held accountable. With the help of time clock software, clear expectations, and proper disciplinary actions you can ensure your employees are making the most of their workday. 

Before jumping into a few ways to prevent time theft, you first have to have an understanding of what exactly time theft means. It’s not just clocking in a few minutes late, there are a number of ways your employees can steal time from you, here are a few common scenarios: 

  • Buddy punching: when employees have a friend punch in for them.
  • Long breaks: 30-minute lunches turn into 45 minutes and 15-minute breaks turn into 30 minutes. No matter the scenario, it’s time you are paying your employees for not working. 
  • Personal time on the job: taking too many personal calls and playing on cell phones and social media during work hours is a big distraction for many employees. 
  • Too much socializing: Many employees wander around the office talking to everyone for 10-15 minutes. Once you add this time up, it can result in a lot of lost time. 

Now that you know the different forms of time theft, let’s take a look at ways to decrease time theft amongst your employees. 

An advanced time clock system will let you better track when your employees are clocking in and out. It can use biometric technology, like facial recognition to ensure there is no buddy punching happening. Image courtesy of Pexels

Use an Advanced Time Clock System

Many employees are guilty of adding a few extra minutes to their timesheets — especially if their employer still uses pen and paper. But even with digital time clocks, an employee that clocks in 5 or 10 minutes early each day is adding a lot of extra time to their monthly pay. 

While you might think that 5 minutes here and there might not sound like much at first glance, think about someone doing that every day for an entire year. It starts to add up quickly. 

Using a time clock system that can better track your employees can help cut back on time theft in a number of ways. Here are a few examples of how an advanced time clock system will protect your company: 

  • Facial recognition: gone are the days of buddy punching with the help of biometric time clock software. To log in or out, employees must look into a camera to track their time. 
  • Automatic breaks: input how many hours employees need to work before a scheduled break and the system can automatically deduct that time from your employee time cards. 
  • GPS coordinates: whether you have remote employees or can’t make it into the office, having the ability to use GPS coordinates can help ensure employees are where they should be. 

The right time clock system can help eliminate time theft due to adding extra time or buddy punching. If these are your main concerns, you’ll want to make sure you have the best technology available. 

Making sure your employees have clear expectations set will help you prevent time theft in the office. Have a conversation and document the procedures so employees know exactly what is wrong. Image courtesy of Pexels

Set Clear Expectations

You need to clearly outline what you expect from your employees during their workday. These things should be provided to employees in writing as part of their employee handbook. Making sure the expectations are readily available to them will help when it comes time to enforce the rules. 

Here are a few things you may want to clearly outline and set expectations around: 

  • What employees should be doing in their downtime
  • When employees are allowed and not allowed to be on their cellphones
  • Procedures for when they need to take a personal call or check personal emails

Setting these expectations early on will help your employees understand the importance of managing their time at the office. Many employees may not even realize they are unintentionally committing time theft by talking with a friend or checking their phone during downtime. These rules will help them understand what is expected of them.

Although it can be hard, disciplining your employees when they have not followed the proper procedures is important. From a written warning to suspension, there needs to be a plan in place for when employees don’t follow the rules. Image courtesy of Pexels

Discipline Employees as Necessary

As an employer, you may be tempted to let the little instances of time theft slide — but this could be detrimental to your policies. Of course, you’ll have to weigh the level of discipline depending on what the issue was, it’s important to address issues with time theft at all levels. 

This means that if an employee is goofing off during downtime, you should address it and let them know what they should be doing. It also means that if you catch an employee buddy punching, you need to address it and take disciplinary action. 

If other employees see someone getting away with time theft, they are more likely to try it themselves. Letting one employee get away with something isn’t worth the risk of others taking notes and starting to slack off. 

Here are the common disciplinary actions that are taken by employers: 

  • Verbal warning: start with a verbal warning and let employees know what they did wrong
  • Written warning: if they become a repeat offender, or if the offense was more serious, a written warning will let them know they have two strikes against them
  • Suspension: the next step is to suspend an employee for their inappropriate actions
  • Termination: termination is the last and most serious disciplinary action to take against an employee who is frequently stealing time from your business

Your disciplinary process should be clear to your employees so they know exactly what happens when they don’t take time management seriously. 


With the right steps in place, your employees will be much more productive and your company will see the profits to match that. Image courtesy of Pexels

You Can Combat Time Theft 

With the help of an advanced time clock system, setting clear expectations, and having a disciplinary process you can combat the effects of time theft. Making your employees aware of the issue and addressing it head-on will help you improve their productivity and accountability. Start making every second count by getting your employees on board with your time management plan. 

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