American businesses lose $373 million a year to buddy punching. One major reason is outdated time clock systems. Many businesses have adopted digital and web based time keeping, but nearly four out of ten (38%) U.S. employers are still using traditional punch cards and time sheets. These paper methods make buddy punching easy, which means moving to an online time keeping system is the first step toward eliminating the problem.
In our last article on buddy punches, we outlined some actions you can take to address the issue. Policy changes, employee education, and warnings can help, at least initially, but they won’t eliminate the problem. Below, we discuss how modern technology can help close the gap and save you money.
Upgrade your system to stop buddy punching
One of the surest ways to stop buddy punching is to upgrade your time tracking system. Invest in modern time tracking technology. A good system will pay for itself by saving your company time and money. More than that, it can make your business more productive, improve profits, and enhance payroll data accuracy.
However, there are many solutions out there. Which one you use will depend on your industry and business processes. Let’s look at a few of the most common and affordable types of time keeping systems that help prevent buddy punching. When configured correctly, these systems can greatly improve accuracy of hours worked.
Mobile Devices and Web-based Apps
Mobile devices and web-based apps are great for clocking in remotely. The best apps can log clock ins, rest breaks, and meals. These methods enable employees to track themselves or can function as time clocks for entire teams. Since they’re linked to a cloud-based time keeping system, employee hours are automatically updated across the entire platform.
In general, mobile apps are more flexible than location-based methods, but because of that, they can also be less secure. Combining mobile apps with complex passwords and IP address restrictions can help increase security while at the same time prevent buddy punching and time theft.
What are IP restricted clock-ins? It means that in order to use a mobile app to clock in, the employee must be connected to an allowed internet network. This ensures that employees don’t clock in from the parking lot or gas station on their way to work. TimeForge has this feature, for example.
Biometric Time Clocks
Although not as flexible as mobile apps, biometric time clocks offer a more secure clock-in method for on-site workers. These clocks use a form of biometric scanning to verify the identity of the person clocking in. Fingerprint scanning, retina scanning, and facial recognition are some of the methods used. These are difficult to fake and are therefore quite secure against buddy punching. In the grocery and restaurant industries, biometric time clocks are a great choice.
Just make sure you do your research. Some time clocks will collect and store personally identifiable data, which you may not want. On the other hand, time clocks like the ones available from TimeForge simply scan your fingerprint, scramble the fingerprint pattern into unintelligible codes, and then save those codes. When an employee clocks in or out, the clock simply rehashes the print and compares the new scrambled codes to the ones in the system to look for a match. Actual fingerprints are never stored, either on the clocks or on the TimeForge servers, so you can rest easy.
Schedule Enforcement and Grace Periods
In the case of both mobile apps and time clocks, there are additional features that can help prevent or reduce buddy punching, such as schedule enforcement and grace periods. These are settings that limit employee clock-ins and clock-outs according to the start and end times of their shifts. Grace periods can be set to allow a little wiggle room, such as 5 minutes early or 5 minutes late. In effect, it greatly limits employees’ ability to commit time theft.
TimeForge supports these features on its mobile apps and time clocks, and they are some of the most effective ways to hold employees accountable and discourage buddy punching.
When tech works together… buddy punching virtually disappears
These technologies make up a pretty versatile toolbox. It’s not uncommon for TimeForge customers to use biometric time clocks for on-site staff but allow corporate office employees to clock in via mobile device or browser. With TimeForge, this is possible because it’s a cloud based system. Whether you clock in using a time clock, mobile phone app, tablet, or web browser, the platform tracks time in the cloud. This means managers can view and manage time cards from anywhere, and everything updates seamlessly.
With a combination of complex passwords, IP restrictions, biometric verification, and schedule enforcement – whatever works for your business – you can greatly reduce buddy punching and protect your bottom line.