Today I’m going to show you 7 ways to eliminate time clock abuse and buddy punching and can keep more profits for your business.
In this comprehensive guide I’ll cover:
- Common Timekeeping Issues
- What is buddy punching?
- How to put an end to buddy punching.
- Establish a timekeeping policy.
- Eliminate paper time cards and time clock machines.
- Use advanced technologies for added security.
- Lots more.
So if you want accurate payroll and faster reporting, you’ll love this guide.
Let’s get into it!
Common Timekeeping Issues
- Buddy punching – Employees clocking in or out colleagues
- Inflating work hours – Early clock in or late clock out
- Unscrupulous data entry – Manually transferring paper cards to a computer with known or unknown modifications to recorded times.
- Favoritism – Assigning tasks to employees who have enough hours when others are available
- Human error – Waiting until the end of a shift to enter hours and guessing
- Long paid breaks
- Performing personal activities at work
What is buddy punching?
Buddy punching is when one employee clocks in or out for another employee.
Pretty simple right? Keep reading, the details will blow your mind.
Often times buddy punching is intended to be an innocent event in which an employee will clock in or out for a friend since they’re headed in the same direction. Other times, buddy punching is used to save a friend from being tardy. Worse are those who use buddy punching for financial gain. In this scenario, employees will clock in or out friends to pad their hours and wallet. Regardless of the intent, buddy punching is typically against the company policy, and both employees could be terminated.
An independent survey of 1,000 employees in 2017 found that nearly 1 in 6 employees admitted to clocking in for a friend. The same survey also found that most time cards are submitted weekly and the most common error made by employees is to add 15 minutes.
According to a report published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2019, 82.3 million workers age 16 and older in the United States were paid at hourly rates. If nearly 1 in 6 workers ( 13,168,000 employees) were paid an average minimum wage of $23.84 with an added 15 minutes per timesheet, US employers would pay a whopping $78,481,280 in added payroll costs per week. That puts the annual cost to US employers at $4,081,026,560 ($78,481,280 x 52) for the year!
How to stop buddy punching?
We recommend you stop buddy punching and time theft using the following methods:
- Establish a Timekeeping Policy
- Eliminate paper time cards and time clock machines
- Use Time Clock Software
- Use Secure Passwords
- Use Biometric scanners
- Use Contactless Badge Readers
- Use Webcam Monitoring
- More bonus methods
There are two groups of people who engage in buddy punching: those who don’t realize that it’s inappropriate (this is a larger group than you might imagine), and those who engage in buddy punching with the full understanding that it’s grounds for termination.
To eliminate buddy punching in the workplace, you’ll need to make sure you’re addressing both groups.
1. Establish a Timekeeping Policy
Training new employees to use your time tracking system is a given; however, don’t forget to detail the expected procedures your employees should follow when tracking and reporting their time. Explain time theft punishment and stress that those consequences are unavoidable.
Here are some examples you may want to touch on in your timekeeping policy.
- Clock “in” immediately before starting any of your duties for a shift, and clock “out” immediately after finishing all of your duties for that shift.
- Clock out before beginning any meal period, and clock in before returning to work after any meal period.
- Do not perform any work while clocked out. If this needs to happen, get manager approval, and have the time spent recorded.
- Do not work more than eight hours in a single day or more than 40 hours in a single week without prior authorization from your supervisor.
- All overtime work must receive supervisor authorization.
- Sign and date your timesheet at the end of each pay period to acknowledge that your time records are correct.
- Review missed punches, employee accruals, and other paid absences on a daily basis.
- Do not punch, alter, or record another employee’s time. Similarly, you may not allow another employee (except for your immediate supervisor) to punch, alter, or record your time.
2. Eliminate paper time cards and time clock machines
While most organizations these days have moved on to digital time clocks, there are still plenty of smaller employers that are still asking employees to track their time on paper. Unfortunately, this is the easiest kind of system to fake.
If you have absolutely no other option but paper timekeeping, at least make sure that each individual employee has their own time card or sheet, and that the time clock is located under someone’s watchful eye, whether it’s a manager, an administrative or HR employee, or someone in security. Make sure that the time clock’s guardian is aware of what to look for when it comes to buddy punching. Installing a prominent security camera aimed at the time clock is always a good idea as well.
Advanced Timekeeping Techniques
3. Use Time Clock Software
Time clock software is quickly replacing old paper time cards and time clock machines. Even more, online time clock software is now dominating the industry as they make tracking time between offices and teams much more efficient.
There are 2 major types of time clocks on the market right now.
- Single purchase, installed, licensed software that is purchased one time and typically maintained via regular software updates.
Check out these one-time purchase time clock systems:
- Online monthly subscription-based time clock systems. These often have the same features as installed software but are online and accessible between offices, departments, and payroll services. Most online timekeeping systems charge a monthly fee per employee with a minimum subscription fee.
Here are a few online time clock systems I recommend:
- https://tickadee.com – $10/mo period. Unlimited users. No added fees.
- https://clockshark.com – $15/mo + $3/employee
4. Use Secure Passwords
With digital time clocks, time clock software, etc., you typically need a unique ID number or username and often times a PIN or password in order to clock in or out. Of course, this doesn’t stop employees from sharing their code with others.
One simple way to help prevent buddy punching is to have your employees use a sensitive clock in password.
For example: Employers may suggest their employees clock in and out using the last four digits of their Social Security number. This isn’t a number that anyone wants passed around, so the likelihood of those numbers being shared is much lower.
5. Use Biometric scanners
More companies are ditching passwords and using fingerprints and other biometrics to increase timekeeping speed and stop buddy punching.
Fingerprint, face, hand, or iris scans are all options for linking time clocks to a single person, and we’re seeing rapid growth toward biometric solutions every day.
Depending on how many employees and locations you have, you may be looking at more money to buy a biometric solution than you are losing to time theft each year. Take a look at your specific needs before purchasing biometric technology.
One thing to note with biometrics is that they can be subject to bad reads from cuts, lotion, dirt, etc.
6. Use Contactless Badge Readers
RFID badge readers, often called contactless or proximity badge readers, are a fabulous alternative to biometric fingerprint scanners. If you are on the fence about using fingerprint technology, contactless badge readers are the way to go. These badge readers have an easy to access design that conserves desk space and allows for fast reads every time.
Contactless badge readers also allow users to leverage their employee ID badges, or any 125 kHz or 13.56 MHz tags or labels, for other forms of secure authentication and identification throughout the workplace. In other words, an employee can use the same badge to enter the building and record their time.
The use of contactless badges and PINs can help reduce buddy punching, but of course, it does not prevent employees from sharing their card, or even their PIN with a co-worker and still providing fraudulent data.
7. Use Webcam Monitoring
One of the best deterrents to buddy punching is the webcam. Even just the presence of one with a sign that says “Smile” may be enough to keep honest employees honest.
Most time clock software like TimeDrop and Tickadee have the ability to add an employee photo to the employee’s profile. When the employee clocks in, their picture will pop up on the screen. With just this feature alone, you could have a security system monitoring the timekeeping station to ensure they are clocking only themselves in. If there is an issue, you can roll the video.
Some time clock applications can also take a snapshot using the camera to record an image of the employee clocking in. This would typically be reserved for extreme situations.
Keep in mind that you need to ensure if the system does take a snapshot with each punch, that there is an image retention policy so the computer’s hard drive doesn’t fill up.
Bonus #1. Employee IP Address Tracking
All computers, tablets, and smartphones connected to a local network or the internet have an IP address. Whether it be a shared device or an assigned device, employees can be required to record their time using an approved device. The time clock system could then be set up to ensure timekeeping can only be accomplished from specific machines using IP address restrictions.
Using IP address restrictions are great as long as the IP address doesn’t change. However, keep in mind that most residential or business internet IP addresses can change occasionally and will almost always change if the internet connection is lost due to a power outage. If you have an assigned static IP address then the IP will not change.
The newest trend in time clock software is to track GPS location for geofencing and location tracking of employees while they are recording their times.
Bonus #2. Use Geofencing
Geofencing is the ability to create an imaginary fence around a particular location which makes it impossible for anyone to punch into your system unless the computer can recognize them as being inside the fenced area. These systems typically use smartphone apps to ensure that the employee clocking in where he or she is supposed to be.
Geofencing is a good choice for those businesses who have easily-defined work-spaces and don’t tend to have many employees working remotely.
Bonus #3. Use GPS tracking
GPS tracking is a fantastic alternative to geofencing if you have employees who work in remote areas. When you use GPS tracking, you can tell where an employee is located when he or she is clocking in. This will allow you to make sure remote employees are at the right job site and that those located in other locations aren’t able to sign in friends. GPS tracking generally requires either special equipment or smartphone apps, but it’s becoming more common among those who have employees at multiple satellite locations.
While there are definitely pros and cons to this technology, it will help you to deal with the problem of buddy punching in an efficient manner.
- Less infrastructure – use employee smartphones vs buying devices for the office.
- More flexibility – allow employees to work remotely from anywhere (job site, home, etc).
- Increased technical support difficulties using the system.
- Allows room for abuse – clocking in/out when they are not where they are supposed to be.
Now it’s your turn
I really hope you enjoyed my new guide to eliminating buddy punching and time theft.
And now I’d like to hear from you.
Which tip from today’s guide are you going to try first?
Are you going to try using a webcam as a deterrent?
Or maybe you want to implement a new timekeeping policy.
Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment below.