Dealing With Time Thieves

The Optical Journal - Optical News With Independent Views

This is probably one of my pet peeves, people doing personal business at work. So irritating.. Back in 2009 we wrote a post on Employee Time time-theft Theft and I thought I would run it again, as the issue keeps coming up over and over.  So what is a time thief at work?

Time Theft comprises of the following:

  • Late arrival, early departure, long lunches
  • Sick days when not sick
  • Creating Overtime when not needed.
  • Personal business at work, including personal phone calls, Internet, Facebook, texting
  • Over socializing with friends and workers.
  • Conducting other business at work.

Eye Bogglers

  • The Boston Globe and Denver Post  reported that US companies lose nearly $400 billion per year in lost productively due to ‘time theft’ or loafing.
  • Robert Half conducted surveys which concluded the average employee steals 4.5 hours/ week in time.
  • Other surveys say: 64% of respondents report wasting one hour or less each day at work, which is, let’s say “acceptable”. 22% waste approximately 2 hours daily, and 14% waste 3 or more hours each workday.
  • The primary-time wasting activity is surfing the Web (with 48%) followed by socializing with co-workers (33%).
  • 30% waste time by conducting personal business
  • 19% waste time by personal phone calls
  • 15% waste time by taking long lunch breaks.
  • 8% of companies have dismissed employees because of sites such as LinkedIn and FaceBook See Note to Self  Talking About Your Boss on Facebook. (True Story)

What It Costs;

  • Outright costs-Lets just say, the average employee steals an average of 1 hour/ week or 50 hours/ year. Pay employee $10.00/ hour with benefits or other perks. That equates to $5,000 a year x 3 employees or $15,000 a year in lost time and money.
  • Loss of patients- Whenever I am in a store and employees are stealing time, I leave without making a purchase. As a consumer you can tell, you can tell texting and personal phone calls, you can see employees in a huddle on the sales floor.
  • Loss of morale- Nothing is worse when you have a hard working person who has to pick up the slack for a time thief.
  • Loss of respect- If you can’t control time thieves due to bad management, lack of enforcing policies, staff loses respect. Lack of respect leads to apathetic environment.
  • Higher prices- for every consumer

How to Resolve:

1.) Make sure your company policy- employee manual state clearly the rules and policies of  personal business, personal phone calls, tardiness, texting and internet use. If employees are using Facebook and Twitter for company business, make sure that is clearly stated. The policies should be stated and have the employee sign the paper.

2.) Have a staff meeting to review and go over all policies and procedures and the reasons for those rules.

3.) If you have set up an Internet monitoring or filtering system- let your staff know. This gives them the responsibility to follow the rules. As an employer you have every right to monitor the Internet, voice mail and phone calls in your office. However under federal law, once an employer knows the call is personal, they cannot monitor the call. The employer has the right to prohibit the dialing and websites of certain phone calls and addresses. (i.e. pornography)

4.) If you have an employee that is not following the rules- speak to them privately.

5.) If an employee is wasting time due to not having enough to do – set up areas of  responsibilities. One of the key elements in productivity is job satisfaction. Work with the employee for professional growth.

6.) 25% of employees say they waste time because they are underpaid. OK- Every person is accountable and responsible for their own job satisfaction and growth. If they feel underpaid- then they should address that by increasing job skills or personal growth or rectify that situation with the employer or find a job elsewhere.

7.) Keep employees motivated by giving praise, thanking them for a job well-done- Reward or bonus them for achievement of goals. It is always better to focus on the positive and reward.

8.) Nothing working, consider installing time clocks.