Would you pay an employee a $5,000 bonus for missing a month of work each year?

Sound ridiculous?  Consider this: An employee who chips 5 minutes off work each day by arriving late, leaving early, or taking an extended break or lunch is actually accumulating nearly 3 extra paid days off per year, according to the article... Employee Time Theft – You Can’t Afford To Ignore It... on DetroitBusinessLaw.com:  “If you pay an employee $15 an hour and that employee is stealing 2.8 days per year, it’s costing you $396 per year considering a factor for payroll taxes and employee fringe benefits.”  The article adds that an employee who steals an hour daily 5 days per week could get 33 days of paid leave per year at a dollar cost of $4,680 (adjusted for payroll taxes and fringe benefits). 

Employee time theft is on the rise, due in part to factors like increased computer use on the job and more employees working from home or outside the office.  Playing online video games, checking sports stats, downloading photos or movies, and updating a social networking account are just some of the many ways that employees use the work day for personal activities.  A few minutes here and there can quickly add up to become a hefty portion of the work day. 

How Much Employee Productivity is Your Business Losing?
Let’s say an employee returns from lunch ten minutes late, then gets on Facebook to post a status update, which takes another three minutes.  From there they click on LinkedIn to spend two minutes checking their account for new professional link invitations and responding to a couple of messages.  Unless social media and professional networking is part of that employee’s job responsibilities, that employee has just spent 15 minutes of company time for personal use – and that was just after lunch.  What about walking in ten minutes late this morning, or leaving a few minutes before closing time, or taking several smoking breaks that require them to leave the building?  Multiply this type of daily “stolen” time by the number of employees at your business, and you can see how much productivity your company is losing – and paying for.

Time spent making personal phone calls, having social conversations with other employees, and working on word puzzles instead of work can divert valuable time from your business.  Taking note of these misspent minutes and hours requires recordkeeping that could be better spent on more important aspects of your company, as well as disciplining or counseling employees who are consistently late or misuse office time.  Employee time theft creates problems for you and for your business. 

While no one likes to play time & attendance keeper on the job or complain about a few moments your employee spends on the phone making a doctor’s appointment, employers have a right to expect fair work for fair pay.  Deviations from the daily schedule should be few and far between, and for good reason.  Find out if your employees are stealing from the work day and take steps to prevent future theft.