Ben Franklin is commonly attributed to the sayings “time is money” and a “penny saved is a penny earned”. Employee time theft has certainly become a pandemic situation and ultimately, it is costing thousands and millions of dollars each year. All those pennies certainly do add up! Across the web, there are numerous resources and pages related to employee time theft; as of time of writing this blog, there was 65.8 million results on Google. To make changes, companies have begun to develop software to help in the prevention of time theft, new management level tactics to dissuade employees from wasting time, incentive systems for good employees, and beyond, including our own webpage on the matter. One lacking area is the identification and investigation into the source or people committing this crime. Here at ASG Investigations, and as Michigan professional investigators, we handle workplace investigations regularly. Completing an investigation before confronting employees about time theft is incredibly helpful. Let’s a take a further look into how specific investigations would aid towards a few different scenarios.
Time Theft Scenario #1: Delivery Drivers/Employees on the Road
Here in Michigan with the seasons changing from winter to spring to road construction, there are numerous delays in travel time for employees. While those may seem like good excuses from your workers, that still should be questioned. That extra construction traffic time could actually be spent at a fast food restaurant or a loved one’s home. To thoroughly investigate your delivery drivers or employees on the road to locate any time theft, we would often recommend surveillance or in the case of company-owned vehicles, GPS tracking. Surveillance can give you answers as to where the employee is stopping and what activities they are conducting during working hours. While this can be the more expensive of the two options, it should give you a clear idea as to how they are spending their time and our video can be used as evidence should legal matters follow. GPS vehicle tracking is recommended here in Michigan on company-owned vehicles, because not only it is protected by law, but it can also handled in a timely and cost-effective manner. Tracking your company vehicles to identify time theft can be incredibly helpful because you can see the actual time frames and locations in an easy to read format. Those times where your employees are legitimately stuck in traffic can be identified and subsequently dismissed.
Time Theft Scenario #2: “I was just a couple minutes late, so _________ punched me in…”
Camaraderie amongst your workers can be a great help to moving work along at a good pace and having a solid team can give your customers the sense of well-being and trust in your business that you desire. This can also have its negative points. If employees are covering up time theft from you, that could be the serious additional money loss you are experiencing. Long lunch breaks, tardiness, and distractions are just other examples of where your money could be going. If your employee spends hours away from their desk on personal calls, are they charging you for that time? Investigating this one on your own a little bit first is essential. Find out where the discrepancies in the time are occurring (frequently late, away from desk, “buddy punching”, etc.) and who are the major players in the problem (specific teams or “cliques”). From there, a Michigan professional investigator can conduct a background investigation to determine if your employees are going through any major legal issues, have any personal relationships tying them together, and beyond. Surveillance can also be utilized to locate any activities outside of work that may be distracting and pulling the employee away during their working hours. The outcomes can range from any sort of issues like a dying grandfather to opening a side business, which could cross-over into the non-compete agreement investigations. Another tool that we investigators utilize here in Michigan is stationary or drop camera surveillance. Placing a camera outside of your business for a few days can show you employees arriving late or the duration of time they spend outside on personal calls. Identify your areas of concern, and we can work together to develop a plan that suits both your time frame and budget.
Time Theft Scenario #3: Fraud Schemes
I saved this scenario for last because it will be one of the most intensive investigations regarding Michigan employee time theft. If a fraud scheme is suspected, there will be many steps involved in the process before beginning our side. Fraud schemes often begin with small amounts and work their way up to the higher dollar amounts. Fraud schemes can range from something as extensive as this “ghost employee” issue as mentioned in Fraud magazine where fictious employees were added to the payroll, misclassifying workers or contractors on tax documents, or just employees increasing their hours on their time sheets. Unsurprisingly, investigating someone who may be stealing money through time theft is best approached by an asset investigation. People will take that money and use it towards a fancy car or paying off bankruptcy debts, and there will be legal documents involved. Having an asset investigation completed by a Michigan professional investigator is the perfect way to get those answers. Running a court record search in conjunction is a safe option if there is concern that the money may be used towards legal issues. As mentioned before, fraud schemes can take many more steps than the typical employee time theft case, but consulting a professional investigator and creating a solid plan of action can get the answers you need.
Statistical data does not need to be presented to show the impact of employee time theft, because it is so obvious, but there will be a few links below if you are interested in the data side of the pandemic. Bringing this together, though, time theft will continue to cost your business in revenue if it is not stopped and thoroughly handled. Utilizing a Michigan professional investigator to help you determine the cause and suspects will cost you much less when it comes down to money. Would you rather pay a couple hundred dollars to complete some surveillance and a background check, or keeping paying employees thousands of dollars for work they are not actually completing? You decide.