How to Stop Fleet Employee Time Theft

When you think about revenue lost to employee theft, chances are that you imagine theft of cargo, fuel, or other material goods. Those are real issues, yet there’s another to consider: loss due to employee time theft and other payroll schemes.

Everyone needs a few minutes to eat and use the restroom during a long shift or, for fleet employees, to drive from one work site to another. Those are not examples of time theft. Simply put, time theft occurs when an employee is being paid for hours that he or she is not using to work. 

How Does Time Theft Affect Fleet Businesses?

Here are some facts you should know:

  • 89% of employees admit to wasting time at work. 
  • 43% of hourly employees admit to exaggerating their labor hours and 25% of those admit to doing so all, or almost all, of the time.
  • The American Payroll Association reports that employee time theft affects 75% of American businesses.
  • One study estimated that time theft costs American businesses $400 billion in lost productivity annually.
  • Payroll fraud can account for as much as 7% of a business’s payroll budget line.
  • The risk of loss due to payroll schemes increases as the size of the business decreases – the smaller the business, the greater the risk.
  • Men are almost three times more likely to be involved in workplace theft than women.

How Do Employees Steal Time from Businesses?

Time theft can happen in many ways:

  • misrepresenting time worked by deliberately padding labor hours or clocking in earlier or later than is truthful
  • “buddy punching,” clocking in a colleague who is not actually at work
  • extending work breaks beyond permissible allotments
  • taking a longer route from one job to another than is necessary or appropriate
  • protracted personal phone calls
  • managing their personal business during the workday
  • spending work time checking social media sites or surfing the web
  • excessive or extended smoke breaks
  • napping on the job — a National Sleep Foundation survey found that 29% of workers reported falling asleep at work
  • using work time to manage a “side hustle,” another business or job

Types of Time Theft

  • Direct time theft happens when an employee makes a fraudulent claim of work time. The individual may report more hours than he or she actually worked, or have a co-worker clock in and out for them when they are absent.
  • Indirect time theft is more subtle. In these cases, an employee is physically present but involved in personal activities for large chunks of time. Common instances of indirect time theft include excessive break time, personal phone calls and texts, and Internet use.

Lawn Care Fleet Reduces Time Theft and Waste

Jim Bernier has been the owner of Spring Green Lawn Care Services in Charlotte, North Carolina for 15 years. Before becoming a GPS Trackit customer, Jim’s biggest concern related to time theft was “not knowing where the guys were going.” He was concerned that drivers were deliberately taking long routes in order to spend more time in the truck and less time performing lawn care. He wondered, “Why does it take you so long to get from point A to point B?” Initially, Jim was afraid to look at his reports because he didn’t “want to find out something bad.” 

Now, Jim is confident that implementing GPS tracking has had an impact on employee time theft. He says, “I have not been able to put a dollar figure on it, but I can say that one individual driving a half-hour out of his route, once I saw that, we nipped it in the bud. So, obviously, we got savings there.” 

GPS tracking is also preventing time theft at Jim’s company. “Occasionally, when new people come on, they don’t realize I have that ability to see where they’ve been and say, ‘Hey, why are you there? Why are you at this restaurant for 40 minutes?’ I’m sure there are costs that have been saved. It’s more of developing the culture that you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, and I can see if you’re not okay.”

How can fleet owners and managers prevent time theft?

There are concrete steps that you can take to prevent time theft.

Communicate and Enforce Expectations

First, define expectations for your employees and communicate them clearly. Employees should know, from their first day at work that spending time in non-work-related activities while they’re on the clock is off-limits. This should be reinforced regularly via company-wide communications.

Are you ready to learn more? Talk to a Fleet Advisor today.

Define and Enforce Your Time Theft Policy

There should be a policy in place that describes the consequences of wasting or misusing company time. This policy should be enforced consistently, with every employee at every level being held accountable to the standards outlined. Consistent enforcement of this policy will not only save money in wasted time but will keep morale high as well. Employees are more inclined to follow time theft policies when you apply them calmly and consistently. Let employees know what consequences they can expect for violating the rules at work.

Next, boost morale at work. Employees are less likely to engage in all manner of professional misconduct when they feel that they are valued contributors to your business’s success.

Finally, as the old proverb goes, “Trust but verify.” Implement systems such as GPS tracking that will let you know where your vehicles and drivers are at all times.

Custodial and Maintenance Fleet Reduces Payroll Time Theft

Bill Rodgers is a fleet manager with over 20 years of experience. He manages the Service Source fleet, which employs disabled people and provides custodial and maintenance services for local businesses, government entities, and non-profits. Over the years, he has seen all kinds of time theft and payroll dishonesty. Bill believes that implementing telematics has been invaluable in preventing employee time theft. He says that, since adding GPS tracking devices to his fleet, “Employees understand that we know if they are spending time in other non-work related activities.” 

Telematics is also useful to him when there is a suspicion of time being falsely reported. “I work with our HR department when there may be other problems with the manager or with the employee,” he says. “These reports are helpful. Where an employee was saying they were starting at a certain time in the day, I can go back and find out that no, the guy didn’t start work at 5:30 in the morning and the vehicle didn’t even start until 7:15.” This documentation is saving his company thousands of dollars in loss due to payroll fraud each year.

Pool Service Fleet Verifies Service to Improve Customer Satisfaction

Elizabeth Donald, Manager of Superior Pool Service in Lewisville, Texas, had a similar experience. She uses GPS tracking to know where each of her more than 30 drivers is at any given moment. She says, “I would say for us [tracking] is the best live view of where the company is at, to help keep up with the guys. We know exactly where they are, and where they’ve been that day or that week. I run a report every Monday morning to see how long they were at each pool, to make sure that they went to each pool. So it’s helped with staffing just to make sure that we’re holding our guys to all the right standards and they’re meeting them.”

If you’d like to learn more about how GPS Trackit can help to improve safety, increase productivity and reduce costs for your business, speak with one of our knowledgeable Fleet Advisors at 866-320-5810 or get a quick Custom Quote.


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