Theft of Time

TAPP Time Management  Book

The conversation began at a Christmas social gathering while chatting with another guest. We got on the subject of iPhone’s, personal technologies and the like. My new companion oversees an inbound call center operation and we were talking about her management challenges today.
As we chatted about the new personal technologies such as the new phones and how employees carry them to work, my new friend became more agitated. She began to share stories of employees and their apparent belief that time spent texting or tweeting or more was not in any conflict with their work duties. She discovered that one employee who they could never seem to locate was busy operating an art sales business over her cell phone and would retire to the women’s room whenever a customer called.

Time theft, such as with our employee art dealer on the side, costs American businesses hundreds of billions of dollars each year. This results from employees who “steal” from their employers by willfully wasting the time for which they are paid. Robert Half, the founder of one of the largest employee staffing and recruiting firms has conducted numerous surveys relative to time theft and concluded that the average employee “steals” approximately 4.5 hours per week from his employer or nearly six full workweeks per year. Employers could be losing more than 10% of their payroll through the following forms of time theft:
* Late arrival or early departure
* Taking longer lunch hours and breaks
* Requesting paid sick days for inappropriate reasons
* Slowing down the work pace to create overtime
* Excessive socializing and personal telephone calls
* Handling personal business while at work

Time theft is not confined to any one type of person or industry. It applies to "white collar" and "blue collar" employees in every type business, institution, profession and Mr. Half found that the majority of the executives surveyed state that permanent employees steal more time than temporary employees. Also, the greater the employee's seniority, the greater the chance that they will steal time from their employer. Office personnel steal more time than manufacturing employees, and employees under thirty years old tend to steal more time than older employees.

As in all areas of management, when concerned with the issue of productivity, the best method of loss prevention is an effective manager who knows what’s going on with each of the people they work with. When a good manager is on the job, there is no fear of long term employees who start their retirement long before they stop working.

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