Whether you know it or not, your operation is probably losing money to time theft. The fast-paced and hectic nature of the foodservice industry makes restaurants particularly vulnerable to employees who “steal” from their employers by claiming time they haven’t actually worked.

To mitigate the risk of payroll losses, more and more foodservice employers are cracking down on time theft—and in many cases, they’re relying on technologies that hold employees accountable by preventing opportunities for dishonest reporting and other unethical workplace behaviors.

Although time reporting infractions may seem insignificant, time theft inflicts real dollar costs. Consider this: in a small business with 10 employees, if workers arrive just five minutes late and leave five minutes early, the total cost to the employer can easily total more than $10,000 per year.

In addition to the financial costs, time theft takes a heavy toll on workplace morale. When a small group of employees habitually show up late for their shifts or leave before their shifts are officially over, it breeds resentment among workers who are following the rules and reporting their time in an accurate, ethical manner. Left unchecked, these behaviors can plunge a restaurant into chaos, incurring additional costs in the form of decreased productivity and employee turnover.

Technology solutions satisfy the needs of both employers and workers by creating a fair work environment. Additionally, the right solution enables the employer to affordably monitor and prevent time theft, ultimately leading to significant cost savings for the operation.

Many types of technologies can be leveraged to eliminate opportunities for time theft. Borrowing the best features of technologies prevalent in other fields and industries (e.g. B2B, security, etc.), these solutions offer highly accessible and effective responses to the time theft challenge—regardless of the size or scope of your operation.

1. Biometrics. The successful use of biometrics is well-documented in applications related to building security and in scenarios where physical access needs to be strictly controlled and monitored. For example, advanced facial recognition technologies are often used to verify the identity of an individual seeking access to a restricted building space.

Those same facial recognition technologies can be useful for validating identities in the time reporting process. One of the most common forms of time theft in foodservice is “buddy-punching”—when employees clock-in for an absent or tardy coworker. Time reporting applications that feature facial recognition or other biometric technologies eliminate opportunities for buddy-punching by verifying the identity of individual users.

2. Automation. Businesses rely on various types of automation technologies to improve common routines and processes. In many cases, automation enables businesses to improve accuracy and workplace efficiency by erasing the potential for human errors.

It’s important to consider how automated time reporting solutions can not only reduce the risk of time theft, but also improve the efficiency of HR routines and processes. The best time reporting applications provide automated platforms capable of sending automatic reminders, tabulating hours and performing other time-consuming tasks that are susceptible to human error.

3. The cloud. Cloud technology has arguably been the most significant advancement in business technology in the past several years. Rather than hosting applications and data internally, businesses of all shapes and sizes now enjoy anytime, anywhere access to advanced technology solutions, extending the reach and effectiveness of these solutions in the workplace.

When it comes to time reporting technologies, the cloud enables employers to centralize data from multiple locations. More importantly, cloud technology ensures that information is stored and synced in real time to avoid the loss of time reporting data.

Time theft is a serious issue for all employers, but especially for restaurants. By carefully considering the implementation of technologies designed to more accurately report time actually worked, you can eliminate opportunities for improper reporting and improve the efficiency of the people who staff your operation.

Marc Aptakin is president and founder of Timesly, the world’s first face-detection time clock app for iPads.