How to Overcome a Work Time Thief


What is a time thief at work?

Time theft reduces labor efficiency, making it a genuine and substantial potential threat in the workplace. What is a time thief at work? Think of time theft as both an actual and symbolic robbery of time.

It can be challenging to identify time theft in an employee’s schedule. People still find a way around time-tracking software, despite it being in place and businesses take the biggest hit as a result of a time thief at work.

Additionally, the situation is murkier since many employees now work remotely or on hybrid schedules following the COVID pandemic.


Distractions are a common time-waster at work

A time and attendance system

While studies have shown that employees who work from home are more productive, managing remote teams and measuring their output can be challenging. When employees are out of sight from an office environment, they can take advantage of the leniency and slack off, leading to consistent time theft.

According to Software Advice, one in four people claims to clock in for longer than their actual working hours. Additionally, 75% of businesses experience financial loss due to buddy punching.


TimeTrack project management options for different hardware

Why does employee time theft happen?

Demotivation and resentment

Employees frequently experience low motivation at work. An ineffective or autocratic boss may be one of the causes of demotivation. Politics and culture within the organization are also quite important and it’s easy for employees to experience resentment due to any number of factors.

A staff member may feel bitter because they did not receive a salary increase, recognition for their efforts or a promotion in many years. Alternatively, they could simply be a person who is unproductive on a basic level.

In general, people will look for shortcuts. Some folks simply work less and more strategically to gain all the benefits and time theft can emerge from this opportunistic strategy.

One of the ways to identify time theft is to maintain an online log. Timesheets can function as time clocks for the designated working hours. In some cases, teams are working on projects together. So, project-wise, time management is one of the ways employees can be monitored and time theft can be identified.

Excessive social media scrolling

Social media is a definite time thief and it’s easy to lose track of time while on a social media platform. Engaging in social media platforms during work time is a time clock theft. Not only does it weaken the attention span of most employees, it also wastes the employee’s time, for which they are being paid.

In a nutshell: playing games, chatting to friends online and scrolling endlessly through social media at all times of the workday amounts to time theft.

Long coffee and snack breaks

Break time is essential for everyone. Coffee breaks and a normal lunch hour function as recharging opportunities for employees. The workforce’s time is designed according to employee needs, not personal activities.

The problem is when employees manage to sneak in longer intervals than the standard time without a genuine reason. This amounts to work time theft. For example, smokers who take numerous smoke breaks are getting an unfair break. Five to six smoke breaks a day can quickly add up to a lot of time theft during a typical work day.

Gossiping and socializing with colleagues

Humans are sociable animals by nature, and of course, we want to chat and gossip with colleagues. People interact with others to feel at ease and familiarize themselves with their surroundings. Both onsite and remote employment gives employees a chance to chat. Again, this becomes a problem of time theft when the socializing gets in the way of work and becomes excessively long and frequent.

Gossiping not only ruins a productive workplace, it also consumes energy. Time is stolen as people concentrate more on gossip, rumors and chatting than work deadlines.

Disorganization and time clock theft

Disorganization is parallel to being irresponsible about time management. Some colleagues habitually check in late to work or company time. One of the ways is ditching the time and attendance checks, which results in time clock theft.

Disciplinary issues and buddy punching

As mentioned, we are social animals who bond with others and make friends. By being friends, one usually performs the rituals of giving and taking services, enabling the phenomenon of buddy punching. Some of these deeds or services may be acts of kindness for individuals but can result in a loss for the workforce.

Buddy punching involves swiping and sharing classified information (documents and passwords, etc.), doing someone else’s work, advocating for others’ mistakes and filling in time and attendance systems for others. All these activities are unethical and are a loss for the organization, creating all the possibilities for employees to steal time. Also, the time and attendance system for an employee is compromised.

Less productivity and hiding from superiors

Productivity is a tool to measure the success of an organization. There is no need for productive people to hide from their boss. When employees don’t complete a task, they often avoid confrontation. It leads to a waste of time and resources of the company.

Employee productivity usually drops due to being lazy, inactive, careless and careless. Lost productivity results in time theft.

Overcoming a time thief work at work

It is necessary to put forth employee time-theft solutions. It doesn’t have to be a stringent, uncompromising approach. There are different ways to gently but firmly get employees back on track.

Better policies

The first and foremost step is to design policies to stop employees from taking extended breaks and wasting company time. The procedures should strictly state the hourly inputs of the company time. Take care to precisely convey to staff their responsibilities and the legalities if they don’t follow through and avoid extended breaks.

Good leadership

Your employee can still find loopholes. This is where a leader has to step in. Seniors should know why this problem exists in the first place. There could be many reasons why they are slacking. Management needs to talk to the employees to discuss the issues. This will help them overcome their problems.

If your team is lazy, it’s probably best to skip the laissez-faire leadership style and spending time with them. This is a style where leaders tend to leave their employees to their own devices.

Keep employees motivated

The solution to banish a time thief at work must be contemporary. You need to think beyond the box to take the bull by the horns. Your remote workers may become less productive if you are rigid and lack creativity, and suddenly start stealing time. Therefore, make sure that your employee comes first. Give them a project they will love working on. Team meetings, whether online or in person, should centre on general conversation and performance assessment. Employees will be aware that they shouldn’t engage in any time-wasting activities. In addition, if an employee is diligent in their work, you may want to reward them.

Sometimes remote employees still don’t perform. In this case, the act of deterrence becomes a requisite. Employees who ignore the company’s policies and guidelines should be placed in a performance improvement plan. If they continue to do the same, it’s time to take action.

Using tools to manage employee schedules

Through attendance software, in and out times can be managed. With that said, it is still not a holistic approach. You cannot keep an eye on every employee during their entire shift. One of the ways employee time theft can be managed is via web or mobile app.

Time clocks

The time clock feature in Timetrack records daily working hours. It then presents it in sheets. So, you can get an overview of the time stamp of each employee at any time of the month. It is a seamless feature to ensure that employees are working productively.

A work time thief affects projects

In many cases, time management becomes a significant price in a project. Through Timetrack project timer feature, compliance and time management is made easy. It allows teams to manage time project-wise. The project timer is different from the regular working hours. It facilitates groups to simplify time-consuming on their tasks and roles. Also, it helps teams to manage multiple projects. Teams become efficient because it eliminates meetings.


Project timer TimeTrack software


Say goodbye to that common time thief at work (and other distractions) when you familiarize yourself with TimeTrack. Our software makes it simple and practical to boost your time management skills.