The cost of time theft in UK businesses

How Much Money Does British Business Lose to Stolen Time?

Loss and theft prevention form a major part of many corporate strategies. But what happens when theft amounts to stolen time? And just how much money do British businesses lose to this unique form of theft each year?

When we use the term ‘stolen time’, we’re referring to time lost through employee procrastination, poor time management or insufficient time tracking. Such infractions may sound trivial, but over the course of any given year, they can equate to significant losses for companies that fail to get a handle on them.

To explore the issue of stolen time further, we launched a survey to investigate the UK’s habits, thoughts, and opinions on time at work. From our research came a number of interesting statistics, not least the staggering losses that British businesses face each year as a direct result of stolen time.

Take an in-depth look at the results of our study below.

How much does stolen time cost UK Businesses?

As you can see from the results below, stolen time costs UK businesses huge sums. Discover how much different offences are causing UK businesses just like yours.

Such results show just how much of an issue time theft is for businesses across the year. Even something as simple as smoking breaks can cost British businesses £8.4 billion pounds every year as a result of lost productivity, according to research by the British Heart Foundation.

Another study showed that a company can lose somewhere in the region of 7% of its profits because of time theft. If you run a company that earns £100,000 per year, it might mean losing £7,000 every single year due to slacking employees.

Why Are Employees Stealing Company Time?

The resources lost through procrastination in the workplace, including time and money, are significant. But before judging employees too harshly, we need to assess why so many are willing to waste time at work, and what this suggests about a company’s overall culture.

Our visual guide below makes it clear why so many employees steal work time.

While distractions account for the majority of time-wasting employees, there’s certainly room for managers to do more when it comes to curbing stolen time in the workplace. From regular one-to-ones to periodic salary reviews, leaders should consider how they can better motivate and satisfy their people.

What Businesses Can Do to Tackle Time Theft

One of the best ways to reduce stolen time is to implement systems that track employee time. Of course, there’s a balance to be had here, as employees won’t take kindly to being micro-managed and monitored for their entire working day. A light touch is best to maintain employee trust and contentment.

To curb the amount of time theft that’s going on in your business, try implementing the following methods…

  • Property access management

Given the loss of time, money and resources which can occur through procrastination, time management may seem like a no-brainer. But our study reveals that only 50% of offices have systems in place for tracking people in and out of work, meaning many businesses may be struggling to get a handle on just how much time their people are wasting.

By tracking your personnel using technological means, you can put an end to excuses and fraudulent behaviours among your workforce. Take our NFC and RFID cards, for instance. These handy items allow your employees to clock in and your business to track their time every day. And by doing so, you can often find and address the root causes of your time theft, which makes rectifying the issue a whole lot easier.

  • Make your time and attendance policies clear

As you educate your employees about time theft and the effects it has on your company, developing time theft policies can help them know where they might be putting a foot wrong.

In your policy, make it clear what does and doesn’t count as time theft. Although that might seem a little extreme, it’s an important part of setting employee expectations – especially if they were taking part in time theft without even realising it.

  • Boost employee morale

From our survey, job dissatisfaction played a large role in why so many employees resort to time theft. And it’s easy to see why. Disengaged, unfulfilled employees and a stressful working environment are likely to result in more and more slacking off – which in turn could lead to higher staff turnover.

Before it becomes too much of an issue, you should be doing what you can to boost employee morale so that their motivation and productivity grows too. Be sure to recognise and reward their success. Instil a culture of transparency, honesty, and trust by demonstrating these qualities from the top. Allow them to voice their concerns and keep communication channels open at all times so that they’re heard and valued.

  • Improve accountability

Following on from the above, employees feel more motivated when they know they’re accountable for their duties. What’s more, you don’t have to make any huge changes to the workplace either; just a few simple adjustments can go a long way to improving accountability.

Setting targets, monitoring goals, and getting team members more involved with decision making can make them feel like they’re part of the team. they’re more likely to be more productive as a result.

  • Follow through on disciplinary measures

In your time theft policy, you should also make it clear what will happen in the event of time theft offences. And while nobody wants to punish employees, preventative measures can help deter them from engaging in time theft in the first place.

When your employees know that there are consequences for their actions, they’ll take your time theft policy a lot more seriously.

  • Be understanding

Remember, your employees aren’t machines, so don’t punish them for taking a break here and there. While monitoring your employees is expected, intruding and micro-managing can often lead to even less productivity and motivation. Instead of disciplining them for every action might make things worse, let them know they can take breaks when they need to.

How Working from Home Increases Time Theft for Businesses

Working from home has become a routine part of the job for millions of workers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. And while some people have hated being away from the workplace, many businesses have realised that hybrid working between the home and the office is a viable long-term solution.

From a stolen time perspective, however, home working presents significant challenges. Away from the office, workers are better placed to reduce output without fear of repercussions; 90% of those WFH say that they’ve never had any action taken against them for wasting time at home.

So, what do workers get up to when they’re WFH? Take a look at what our survey respondents admitted to below…

Of course, solving the issue of stolen time is hugely difficult for businesses that want to find the balance between optimised profitability and a motivated workforce. Tell us your thoughts, tips, and tricks on our Facebook page.

Swype is one of the UK’s leading plastic card and print specialists, delivering first-class service and innovative solutions. For more information or to learn more about our products and services, visit the homepage or call 01744 815475.

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