What Is Time Theft? and How to Put a Stop to It?

What Is Time Theft? and How to Put a Stop to It
What Is Time Theft? and How to Put a Stop to It

In today’s business world, time theft can affect your employees and their ability to get work done. On average, each employee loses 5.6 hours per week due to time theft at work, which adds up to $24 billion in lost productivity each year.

This theft comes in the form of stealing supplies, taking long lunches, or texting and talking on the phone during working hours, among other things.

You likely aren’t even aware of time theft, but you may well be a victim of it. How many times have you lost an hour or more at work that you’ll never get back? If you’re like most individuals, the answer might be more than you realize, and that time is probably worth a lot of money to your employer.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways you can put an end to time theft at work and help your business get back to being productive and profitable once again.

In this blog, we’ll look at seven different ways to help you stop time theft at work and protect yourself against employee lawsuits while avoiding the loss of productivity that comes with it.

But before we dive into those ways, let us first understand what time theft is and how many types it has.

What is Time Theft?

What is Time Theft
What is Time Theft?

Workplace time theft occurs when employees take advantage of employers by spending their time on non-work-related activities or other things that do not benefit the employer in any way, thus making time theft a problem that all employers have to deal with.

It may seem like it’s harmless to steal a few minutes here and there, but over time, these tiny bits of time add up and take away from actual productive work hours – creating issues such as company payroll fraud and the inability to meet deadlines on time.

An estimated $2 trillion is lost in the U.S. each year from employees doing things that don’t benefit their employers, and there are millions of people stealing time from their jobs every day.

The time when your employees mindlessly scroll through social media when they should be working that’s time theft.

Well, to get a more broad idea, let’s understand different types of Time Theft.

Different Types of Time Theft.

1. Buddy Punching

Buddy Punching
Buddy Punching

Buddy punching is when employees have a colleague punch into the time clock for them if they’re late or need to leave early. It deceives the system into believing the employee had worked a full day when, in reality, they did not. As per a study by the American Payroll Association, more than 75 percent of the firms lose their resources because of buddy punching. 

2. Frequent and Extended breaks

Frequent and Extended breaks
Frequent and Extended breaks

It’s natural for your employees to take frequent rests breaks in order to be effective.

However, adding another 5 minutes to a 15-minute break or making a 60-minute lunch last 75 minutes becomes costly. These frequent breaks and rests can add up to over 20 days in a year and lower the overall productivity of the organization.

3. Too Much Personal Time   

Too Much Personal Time
Too Much Personal Time

It’s natural for an employee to be required to take a personal call or respond to a private email at times. Emergencies do occur. But when it starts to happen on a daily basis, it enters the realm of time theft.

4. Time Theft Over The Internet

Time Theft Over The Internet
Time Theft Over The Internet

This occurs when employees use the internet for non-work activities, which is one of the most prevalent forms of time theft. They might be using it to surf the web, shop online, or spend large amounts of time on social media. The addition of smartphones and tablets has created additional difficulties for employers and often makes it highly difficult to deal with.

So now you are familiar with what TimeTheft is and what different types it has. Now it’s time to look at the 5 ways that will help you to deal with it.

5.  Ways to Stop Time Theft at Work

1. Create time theft policies for your employees

Create time theft policies for your employees
Create time theft policies for your employees

If a coworker is taking long lunches or breaks, approach them in private and respectfully ask if they can trim back their time away from work. Give them a chance to improve on their own.

While time theft can happen any time during business hours, most people assume it happens mostly during lunch break times.

To put a stop to time theft in your workplace, create policies that address time theft head-on. If time theft goes unchecked for long enough, it can become a serious issue that affects your employee morale.

That’s why it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of time theft in your office. Make sure you put into place policies that curb office distractions before they get out of hand.

Creating time theft policies will set a clear example that stealing time from work is unacceptable. Write down your office’s policies and make sure employees are aware of them, but also enforce these rules fairly and consistently.

2. Avoid Multitasking

Avoid Multitasking
Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking is detrimental because it distracts your brain from focusing on one task.

This means you get less done, and it takes longer to complete tasks, which in turn requires more time and effort, a clear source of time theft.

Studies show that multitasking can reduce your productivity by up to 40%. Don’t fall for distractions and time thieves like email and social media. When you’re working on a project, focus solely on that project until it’s complete.

Once you’ve finished a task, write down everything you need to do next, then pick one thing and tackle it without distraction. Instead of trying to juggle multiple things at once, focus on performing a single task at a time.

The key to stopping time theft at work lies in defining it and setting clear expectations for what employees are expected to accomplish each day. Any violations will then be easier to track, and this also helps employees to focus on a single task and prevent time thievery from multitasking.

3. Restrict the use of Unproductive Websites and Apps

Restrict the use of Unproductive Websites and Apps
Restrict the use of Unproductive Websites and Apps

One of the most common types of time theft is when employees use their work computers to surf the web and waste time on unproductive sites and applications.

While you may think a website like Facebook or Twitter is innocent, it’s actually stealing time from your workday and adding hours of pointless browsing to your weekly schedule.

Fortunately, it can be prevented with internet restriction software. The software restricts these sites so that employees cannot visit them during prescribed working hours.

Companies may also utilize browser-based filtering solutions, such as Browse Control, to allow access to these unproductive websites during designated rest times, allowing staff to use these sites while they are on the break.

After taking such steps, you’ll be glad to see an enhancement in your employees’ productivity.

4. Boost Employee Morale

Boost Employee Morale
Boost Employee Morale

One way of stopping time theft is boosting employee morale. Giving your workers a sense of value and loyalty makes them less likely to engage in unscrupulous behavior.

When employees are appreciated, they are more engaged and productive in their work. It also makes employees more loyal to the company.

When employees see other employees getting away with time theft, their productivity starts to drop. But such getaways can be prevented by implementing time theft rules and utilizing attendance systems.

But what about those who are honest about their working hours?

Providing incentives and recognizing them will boost employee morale. Furthermore, it would be great if you establish an environment of openness, honesty, and trust. This will help you avoid time theft at the workplace.

5. Choose The Right Software

Choose The Right Software
Choose The Right Software

One simple way to do so is by tracking user activity with a user activity monitoring tool. These tools can report both positive and negative employee behavior as well as pinpoint exactly where time has been stolen, which allows management teams to keep an eye on what their workers are doing while they’re working.

User activity monitoring tools can also help you keep tabs on all employee systems by tracking users’ keystrokes and clicks. This can help IT teams spot potential problem areas before they become major issues.

User activity monitoring allows companies to track their employees through mobile devices and computer networks. This helps keep tabs on what employees are doing during working hours, especially if it looks like they’re not working.

With employee monitoring software, managers can even find out which applications are being used during specific periods of time, making it simple for them to figure out how productive an employee is.

Even if your staff tries to evade the system, the right software provides you with exact data that you may utilize to track and address time theft.

Now that you understand how you can tackle time theft, let us see which software solution will be the best for you.

For businesses that are serious about productivity and eliminating time theft from their workforce, it may be worthwhile to invest in WorkStatus-a leading employee productivity tracker.


WorkStatus is a fantastic choice for businesses concerned about time theft. Its GPS-based time tracking and thorough reporting make it simple for managers to track employees’ time on every task and the location they are working from.

Unlike physical time clocks that may be abused through buddy punching, Workstatus automatically starts when a worker enters or leaves a job site so that there is no chance of being tricked by employees.

It also gives companies in-depth visibility into how workers spend their time and what they’re getting done, so managers can take steps toward developing better processes and making sure employees are being productive.

In addition to helping managers spot employees who might be wasting company time, Workstatus can help management teams understand which resources or applications are being used at specific times during a day, making sure that employees stick to their working platforms.

Because of its ease of use and strong set of capabilities, WorkStatus has become a favorite software for organizations that seek to increase employee productivity by limiting time theft.

Don’t take our word for it. Sign up for a free 14-day trial of WorkStatus and check it out yourself.


For managers and small business owners, it can be tricky to track what their employees are working on as it may take a great deal of time and energy, which means you won’t be able to focus on other important tasks.

The good news is there are ample tools out there that can help you automate the tracking process. These tools provide insights on exactly how users spend their work hours, including the applications they’re using.

Since these tools are easy to integrate into an organization’s existing IT environment, they don’t disrupt employee workflow in any way. They help companies pinpoint exactly what needs to be done to stop time theft and boost employee productivity across all departments.

Well, that’s a wrap. We would love to hear in the comments how these tips and tools helped you tackle time theft.

Thanks for reading!