Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Employees Cheating Time... But What Can You Do About It?

According to a recent survey released by time-clock vendor Kronos, your employees are cheating your timekeeping systems. The survey reveals that employees routinely steal pay from their employers for time they have not worked. Such thievery includes clocking-in earlier or clocking-out later than scheduled, having someone else clock them in or out, neglecting to clock out for lunch or breaks, or adding time to timesheets.

Is anyone surprised that your employees might try to cheat your timekeeping system to steal a few extra bucks? Now that I've reported on what should be obvious to anyone who runs a business or works in HR, I present a more practical issue—what can you do about it?

Here's what the law says about the use of time clocks for payroll purposes:

Time clocks are not required. In those cases where time clocks are used, employees who voluntarily come in before their regular starting time or remain after their closing time do not have to be paid for such periods provided, of course, that they do not engage in any work. Their early or late clock punching may be disregarded. Minor differences between the clock records and actual hours worked cannot ordinarily be avoided, but major discrepancies should be discouraged since they raise a doubt as to the accuracy of the records of the hours actually worked.

In practice, this rule, coupled with these survey results, places employers in a bad position. Because employers have to keep accurate records of the hours their employees work, routinely failing to pay employees for inaccurately recorded time might cause the Department of Labor to distrust the validity of your recordkeeping, which, in turn, could lead to a costly recordkeeping violation of the statute. Refusing to pay employees per your recording system also opens your business to a potential Department of Labor investigation or class action lawsuit for unpaid wages. The Hobson's Choice employers face in this area—as a result of the web woven by the FLSA's anachronistic rules and regulations—is either to grind your businesses to a halt through strict compliance, or to roll the compliance dice and hope that the Department of Labor or a plaintiffs' class action lawyer will not come knocking on your doors.

As a solution, I offer a three-pronged approach:

1.    Create a culture of honesty in your business, and train your managers and supervisors on the importance of honesty in timekeeping and the consequences that will result from dishonesty. You cannot hope to change employees' dishonest behavior without first creating a workplace gestalt of honest behavior.

2.   Pay per your timekeeping system, which may result in some employees receiving pay for un-worked time. It is usually not a defense to a wage and hour lawsuit that you did not authorize work that the employee performed. If it's documented as time worked, pay for it (but see number 3 below).

3.   Discipline—routinely, consistently, and with sufficient warning—those employees who are caught falsifying their time records. Just because you have to pay for recorded time does not mean that you lack recourse against employees you reasonably believe are being dishonest. Discipline or termination will reinforce your culture of honesty by creating consequences for those that breach.

Following these three steps cannot prevent dishonest employees from trying to steal pay for time not worked. But, it will create the appropriate workplace environment to encourage greater honesty in time recordation, which should pay exponential dividends by spilling over into other facets of your business. 

Jon Hyman is a partner at Kohrman, Jackson & Krantz. He is the author of the nationally recognized Ohio Employer's Law Blog and tweets about employment law issues, follow him at @jonhyman. His colleagues affectionately refer to him as "Social Media Guy." He parlayed his status as a social media early-adopter to author and edit Think Before You Click…, the first book to address the evolving intersection of human resources and social media. He also appeared on an episode of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire', but lacked the fastest fingers. 

Thanks to Jon Hyman / Fistful Of Talent



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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Embracing Change From Both Sides

One of the great difficulties in shifting an organization from a hierarchical, command and control structure to a more networked wirearchical one is that you have to work both ends at once. Strategic guidance and high level models are rather abundant; for instance we generally know that organizations should be flatter, information should be democratized and risk & failure should be made more acceptable. Examining a business and looking at how it can be more social, innovative and agile is not really that difficult. From both inside and outside the organizations, most gaps are easy to identify. But the main challenge is what to do about them. Consultants, and even key internal staff, can often identify the problem (at the time) but then they move on to the next problem before much change has happened.

Complexity theory tells us that complex problems need to be probed through action before any sense can be made of them. Changing to a social business is complex. Dave Snowden has operationalized this with the Cynefin framework (Probe-Sense-Respond in complex environments).

But, as Dave has reminded me, over half of our probes will fail. That means we cannot create a plan for the organizational shift and then implement it. It has to be designed as a work in progress, or really a series of works in progress.

My experience, especially this past year, is that social business is just a different organizational culture. But you cannot directly change it or implement it. Culture is an emergent property of the many practices that happen every day. Change the practices and a new culture will emerge.

Communities of practice are often where work practices get developed. Even without formal approval, communities of practice exist and have a great influence on the organization. They can be a bunch of workers in the lunchroom or the CEO's inner circle. They learn from each other by modelling behaviour. We may not even realize we're modelling (and adopting) behaviours, but it happens all the time; like keeping your mouth shut when an executive says something really stupid.

So how would you re-focus an existing organization? First you need the frameworks and new ways of talking about business in place. These are based on the concepts Steve Denning, Gary Hamel, John Hagel and others talk about (radical management, management innovation, edge perspectives). Then you need to identify Probes, or what Dave Snowden calls safe-fail experiments. These are designed to be not so large that failure would seriously damage the company.

Next comes the trickier part. These probes have to be supported. How do you take a team that has never narrated its work and tell it to "be more transparent" or "share knowledge with customers". New ways of doing things have to be practised, modelled and developed in a non-confrontational environment. It takes time. Not an inordinate amount of time with good support, but it doesn't happen in a matter of week; more usually months.

For example, we've worked with distributed groups who are focused on improving collaboration. Everyone is onboard at the onset. But after an initial week or two we notice that nobody is sharing information. They say there's no time to do it, but this is not a lack of motivation, it's a lack of skills. However, these types of social skills require much more practice than theory.

During one of these probes, there can be lengthy periods of time coaching, cajoling and modelling, but at some point, things click with someone. This person sees how these new ways of working are really helping get work done. Someone else gets positive feedback from people outside the team. After a period of time there is no more need for outside help and the team becomes a model for the new business behaviours such as taking initiative in delighting customers. Ideas are supported, not shot down. People build on others' ideas. One other thing; the end result of a probe is never what we thought it would be.

Like learning a new language, getting access to the right knowledge is only a small part of the solution. The best curriculum and best designed courses will have no effect if people do not practice. Formal instruction, or lecturing, is minimal in any of these probes. People need to do in order to understand. It's social. Individuals practising on their own will not get the entire organization functioning in the new language either. It has to happen cooperatively. Getting feedback from experienced people, while engaging in peer learning, will help develop next practices in social business. But it requires time, effort and patience.

I've been told that you know you're in a real community of practice when it changes your practice. It's a good measuring stick.

There is no doubt in my mind that you need to work both ends at once: develop a flexible, contextual strategy but also practice new behaviours through a continuing series of probes. Supporting these probes and learning by doing are essential. Engaging in probes where failure is an option can be an extremely valuable learning process. It can even be transformational. Developing a strategy and then following the plan is just another 20th century "change management" process. It is backward looking, based on a plan that is outdated the moment it is published. In the 21st century, the aim is not to manage change, but understand and embrace change. It's shifting to an acceptance of life in perpetual Beta.

Thanks for Harold Jarche / Jarche / Harold Jarche


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