4 Reasons Employees Steal Time And Cover For Friends at Work When employees steal time, it’s the same as stealing electronics, tools, supplies or money from the cash register. There’s no difference. Why do so many employers overlook this, or turn a blind eye to it? If time is money, then to steal time is a serious breach of confidence.
What reasons do employees have that make them feel entitled to this kind of theft? Here, we’ll take a look at why employees steal time and cover for their friends at work.
1. It’s Not a Tangible Theft
Most workers would never walk into the building and take a computer or piece of valuable machinery. They know that if they did, they would be fired instantly. However, over the course of a year, that same employee might be stealing more time than the value of several computers.
Let’s say you have a full-time employee earning $25 per hour. They’re on the clock for eight hours a day. That means you’re paying them $200 per day. They’re supposed to arrive by 8 am and work until 5 pm. However, they don’t typically arrive until 8:15 and tend to cut out early at 4:45. Yet they are still getting paid for their full eight-hour shift.
This means that they are stealing $12.50 from you every single day. Over the course of 20 working days each month, that comes to $260 they’re stealing every month. If you break it down by the year, that employee is stealing a whopping $3,250! And that’s just one employee. If you’ve got 50 employees that are averaging the same half-hour-per-day time theft, that’s $162,500 per year in time theft.
Got your attention?!
2. They Feel Entitled to It
Many employees feel entitled to take a little extra time because they work hard. But hard work is not a reason to steal time. Other employees may steal time because they have a lot going on at home, or are dealing with other personal stresses. And that’s fine. But stealing time isn’t the answer. If they need a little extra time away from work, offer it as unpaid time or let them use some vacation/personal time.
Stealing time is never OK. This should be made very clear to employees. Show them the numbers detailed in the prior section of this article. If they are OK with that level of theft, they probably aren’t people you want working for you.
The habit of stealing time can quickly become a subculture within your company. One employee sees another routinely arrive late or leave early. They begin to think that if he can do it, why can’t I? This mentality can quickly permeate the entire company. The next thing you know, stealing time gets completely out of control. One employee starts to cover for another when problems arise from the habit. Then the one that’s been covered for covers for another.
The answer is simple. None of them want to lose the perceived ability to steal time. If a dozen others are doing the same thing, how can I be the one that gets singled out? Obviously, this isn’t acceptable behavior. But this type of group-think is why employees cover for their work friends in these situations. Stealing time can easily become part of the culture of a company if it’s not stomped out.
4. My Boss Won’t Notice as Long as I Get My Work Done
High-performing workers that feel entitled or irreplaceable often have this mentality. While this may be true in some instances, the reality is that more work will get done in those extra hours that are left off the table. Without a solid system of checks and balances that makes stealing time impossible, they will continue to abuse the system without consequence.
Stealing Time Is Never Ok
When an employee steals time, they are taking money directly out of the company’s bottom line. Don’t allow it. Someone who thinks they can steal time is not a trustworthy employee. Take a closer look at the culture of your company and see what can be done to solve this quiet problem.
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