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When it comes to labor, time is literally money. If your employees are reporting a few extra minutes here or there, it’s cutting into your profit.
But if you don’t have a reliable method of tracking employee time, how can you prove that your employees are cheating their time clock?
Today, we’re going to look at why employees cheat their time clocks, the most common time clock cheating strategies, and how to deal with an employee cheating time clock situation.
Why Does Employee Time Clock Cheating Happen?
Most employees will “cheat” a time clock eventually. It’s not always intentional. It’s human nature to approximate—and it’s human nature to think “it’s just a few minutes.” The looser you are about employee time reporting, the less accurate your employees will be.
In construction, employees may visit multiple sites a day. They may need to travel quite a distance to get to the first site. And they may not actually log their time until the end of the day or even the end of the week.
Do you remember everything you did this week?
Most time clock cheating occurs not because employees aren’t being honest or ethical, but because there’s no easy method of accurately tracking time. Paper timesheets will always introduce a level of uncertainty, while manual time clocks are expensive and limited.
The Most Common Time Clock Cheating Strategies
How employees cheat the time clock largely depends on the type of time clock you’re using. Most time clocks have specific vulnerabilities that you need to protect against.
Old-Fashioned Punch Clocks
Employees can buddy punch for each other. The first person there just punches everyone else in. Sure, that builds camaraderie, but it steals valuable time from your business. And employees may feel pressured to buddy punch so as not to develop animosity between themselves and the rest of the crew.
Time Clock App (Without GPS Tracking)
Employees can simply forget to clock out or clock in early. Workyard uses a geofencing time clock to track whether employees are actually on-site—but not every app does that. An ordinary time clock app could be cheated simply by an employee not clocking out until well after they have left.
Spreadsheet or Paper Timesheet
If you’re using a spreadsheet or paper timesheet, it’s even easier for employees to cheat. Employees just track the time that they want to have worked, rather than the time that they actually worked.
As you can see, it’s the method of time tracking that makes you vulnerable to an employee cheating your time clock.
The 4 Most Effective Ways To Prevent Time Clock Cheating
So, when employees can cheat the time clock, they will. While you can address individual instances that you’ve caught, there will be many more that you didn’t catch.
Here’s how you can prevent time clock cheating.
1. Invest in a GPS-Driven App
A GPS time clock app tracks an employee’s location from when they clock in to when they clock out so you always know when employees are actually on site. Each employee would have the app installed on their phone, so buddy punching becomes a thing of the past—an employee can only log themselves in, not others.
2. Periodically Review Your Reports
Look at your labor reports to identify any discrepancies. In Workyard, you can pull real-time reports for any employee. Does it seem like some jobs are taking too long? Reference photographs and text to determine whether tasks are getting done on time, or whether it seems like your employees are losing time.
3. Improve Your Employee Communication
Sometimes, time clock cheating doesn’t occur because employees are trying to “steal time,” but rather because employees don’t have enough time in the day. A job goes over, for instance, and they just attribute that time to the next job. You are paying them for the same number of hours, but now your estimates and client billings are off.
If you’re using a GPS app, this is easy to catch and fix. But even if you’re not, have a conversation with your employees about their daily workloads. Make sure they understand that it’s important to be accurate in their time tracking so that estimates are correct and jobs are scheduled accurately.
4. Establish the Consequences of Time Theft
In your employee manual make it clear that time theft will not be tolerated. Set up a system of warnings and progressive discipline, so that employees know the consequences of their actions and be aware that you’re paying attention. Follow through on those consequences when they do occur.
Time clock cheating is a serious issue, but it’s one that you can address with policy and technology. Because time clock cheating is so insidious (employees often do it without even thinking about it), it’s better to make it so that it’s impossible to do—with the right technology.
Defeat Employee Time Clock Cheating With Workyard
Workyard’s construction time tracking software that puts your employee time tracking on autopilot. With our GPS-powered time clock app, you’ll never have to worry about time clock cheating again—buddy punching, late clock-ins, late clock-outs, or employees forgetting to clock in at all.
Get real-time reports regarding your employee hours. View where your employees are right now, on a live dashboard. And make time clock cheating a thing of the past.