March 19, 2024

Right now, as you’re reading this article, an on-the-clock employee is binge-watching their favorite show. Another is walking their dog. And another is taking a nap.

All employees, even your top performers, are guilty of time theft from time to time.

Time theft, when an employee accepts pay for work and time that they didn’t work, is easy to spot when employees are present on the worksite. Mindless scrolling of social feeds, socializing with coworkers, and taking longer-than-allowed breaks are visible signs a worker has mentally checked out.

However, when it comes to remote workers, it’s not as easy to see, but it’s happening. According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees who worked at home report doing so for 5.4 hours on days they worked vs. 7.9 hours for those who worked at their workplace.

Working Hard vs. Hardly Working

Just because your employees are sitting in front of their laptops, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are working effectively. In fact, taking periodic work breaks throughout the day can boost well-being and performance.

But how much downtime is acceptable? Followers of the 52/17 Rule, work intently for 52 minutes, then take a break for 17 for optimal productivity. This popular hack is proven effective in the workplace.

Studies show that employees who take frequent breaks are more productive than those who don’t. If that’s true, then employees only need to actively work for 5 ½ hours of an 8-hour workday.

Time theft becomes a problem when it impacts productivity. So how do you know when your remote employee is taking advantage of the situation? These are signs to look out for:

  • The employee isn’t responsive to calls and emails
  • The employee is late with assignments or their work is sub-par
  • You been receiving complaints about the employee’s performance from clients and colleagues

Avoiding Time Theft 

Fortunately, there are ways to deter time theft among your remote team. Here’s how.

Encourage accountability

Create an environment of accountability to ward off time theft. Keep your remote employees engaged by building a sense of community, providing ample feedback and recognition, and investing in their development. Demonstrate that out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind.

Establish a policy

All workforces with remote or flexible working models should have a formal work-from-home policy. In addition to legal rights and security protocols, the policy should clearly communicate expectations for employee availability and responsiveness, along with methods used for measuring productivity. The policy should be included in your employee handbook.

Utilize time and labor management software

Integrated time and attendance software makes it difficult for employees to steal time. With Counter Point HCM’s time and labor management solutions, you can track and monitor your employees’ meals, breaks, and overtime, calculate and manage comp time, track employee locations when they clock in and out, monitor errors, and manage other time policies for complete and accurate timecards.

If your company could benefit from time and attendance software, request a call today!

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