5 Ways Companies Can Use Engagement to Reduce Time Theft

8 minutes read

By Julie Kramer

Imagine a workforce that chooses to steer clear of engaging in time theft, whether that means buddy-punching, fudging punches or goofing off on the job. In other words, a workforce that clocks in and out diligently and takes pride in its work. 

Yes, great time-tracking technology helps deter time theft, which costs employers millions every year. So do robust time and attendance policies. But there are also positive, workforce-friendly ways to reduce time fraud—and that’s where employee engagement intersects time and attendance.  

We know that engaged employees are more productive employees who strive to perform at a higher level. Therefore, it stands to reason that they are also less likely to commit time theft. 

That’s why employers can use the same HR strategies to accomplish both objectives at once. Consider these five key strategies for elevating engagement—while simultaneously motivating workers to be truthful about their time on the job.

  1. Help Employees Find Their Purpose 

According to research by McKinsey & Co., 70% of employees claim their sense of purpose is defined by their work. Yet while 85% of executives surveyed found purpose at work, 85% of frontline employees did not!

What’s the disconnect? In order to internalize their individual purpose—their role and its importance—employees must first understand their organization’s greater purpose, something employers don’t always communicate well. 

So, make sure your employees know how your organization contributes to the community, the economy, your industry, etc. Drill down to how each department, team and worker contributes to the greater good. When employees believe that their contribution matters, they’re more focused on doing their part—not on finding ways to outsmart the time clock. 

5 Ways to Boost Engagement

  1. Town Teamwork

Humans are social animals, which is why a team-based workplace is essential to employee engagement. Studies show that, when it comes to changing employee behavior, peer pressure works better than financial incentives. 

By extension, employees who feel that they are part of—and beholden to—a team of coworkers are less inclined to commit time theft. For one thing, they won’t want to let their teammates down. For another, they’ll fear losing their peers’ respect and friendship should they be exposed. 

There are many steps managers can take to foster teamwork, such as holding regular team huddles, assigning group goals, sharing results and especially celebrating and rewarding successes.

  1. Make Sure Your Managers Are Connecting 

In most cases, no person has a greater impact on an employee’s day-to-day experiences and interactions than their manager. According to Gallup research, 70% of engagement is determined by a manager’s approach. 

Strong managers forge personal connections with their employees, inspiring them individually. The same can be applied to time and attendance habits. Employees who like and respect their managers, and who seek their approval, are unlikely to risk triggering their disapproval by engaging in time theft. 

Make sure your managers have the skills and processes they need to manage people well—from connecting with employees to communicating company policies in a clear and positive way. 

  1. Recognize Your Top Performers 

Studies show that employee recognition programs are powerful engagement tools that create a positive workplace culture, enhance the employee experience and improve retention. Even simple verbal praise has been found to improve performance and morale.  

Admittedly, one cannot easily recognize employees for not engaging in time theft. But you can recognize workers for their performance. And reward various teams and workgroups for a month or quarter of flawless time and attendance. When you do so, you not only communicate expectations, but also create a bond of respect and recognition that employees may be reluctant to break. 

  1. Let Employees Do Work They Love

When people are performing activities they enjoy, they aren’t thinking about the passage of time, let alone stealing it. They’re energized at the cellular level. Think about it: When the human brain is positively engaged, it releases feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin—and that’s pretty powerful stuff.   

That’s why it makes sense for managers to find out what type of work and/or projects their employees love and offer them opportunities to do more of it—along with related training that will allow them to further sharpen and use their talents. 

In short, employees who enjoy their work are inclined to be happy, and happy employees don’t have a reason to steal work time, because they like their work.


In the final analysis, the greater degree to which employees are engaged—with their employer, manager, coworkers and the work itself—the less likely they are to engage in time theft. The principles and strategies are one and the same. The results? A win/win for everyone. But even with an engagement boost, companies still need the right solutions to ensure their time-tracking processes keep on ticking time after time.

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