Dear Sylvia: I Suspect My Employee is Not Being Honest

Dear Sylvia,

I have an employee who does strong work and shows enthusiasm for the job; however I believe this person is not being completely honest about the hours written on the timesheet when I’m not around. I have caught this once before and have said something, however I suspect it’s happening again. What should I do?Ethical Dilemma


New Boss

Dear New Boss:

Thank you for asking this important question.  I’m sure others also can benefit from my response to it.

My recommendation is that you design a time audit sheet to accompany the expense sheet.  The audit sheet requires employees to account for the specifics of what they are doing during a particular time block.  You may want to set it up in half hour increments.  Employees must complete the audit comprehensively, including each and every phone call.  I suggest that you ask people to do this for three consecutive months.  You can tell them that your purpose is to gain greater insight into how your company overall is spending its time.  This information will help you, as the business owner, to make more effective decisions going forward.

If you continue to have serious questions about how honestly one employee is completing his or her timesheet, I recommend that you speak privately with that person and express your concerns forthrightly.  Make sure you provide reasons for your questions.  Tell the person what you are observing and what leads you to draw these conclusions.  Ask the individual to tell you if your observations and conclusions are accurate.  In other words, probe for his or her side of the story.  Whatever you hear will undoubtedly be educational.  Finally, tell the employee exactly what you expect when folks fill out timesheets.  Be clear about the consequences to breaches of those expectations.  AND–document the conversation after it is over.

Do you have a business question? Send your questions via email at or by mail to 4902 Carlisle Pike, PMB 297, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050.

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