What is Buddy Punching?
Buddy punching is when an employee clocks in for another employee so it appears the employee they are clocking in for arrived earlier or left later than they actually did. This often happens when someone is running late and tells a coworker to sign them in at the same time they do, so their late start is not noticed and they are still payed the same amount, even though they did not work the same hours.
There are some scary statistics when it comes to buddy punching and time theft. Per a Nucleus Research report, around 19% percent of workers have admitted to buddy punching for a coworker. Although this could initially seem like an innocent way to help a coworker, the American Payroll Association reports that this type of time theft accounts for 2.2% of payroll losses and almost 75% of all companies are affected by the practice. Buddy punching can lead to employees stealing 4.5 hours of work per week, imagine the costs that could add up to!
So, as an employer of hourly workers, what can you do to put a stop to this detrimental behavior?
Here are four proven steps to take to implement an effective buddy punching policy:
Step 1: Utilize Biometrics
The only way to truly thwart off buddy punching is through the use of biometrics. With a scattered workforce spread across multiple sites, it is impractical to have a manager at each location manually verifying that each employee clocking in is who they say they are. Because of this, you need to turn to technology to do the heavy lifting for you.
Biometric technology, or the use of physiological traits to verify identity, has greatly expanded and improved in recent years. You will want to use time clocks or a mobile time clock system with GPS that are furnished with biometrics. One common way to use biometrics in time and attendance is to use time clocks or mobile apps that are equipped with fingerprint readers. However, in cases where manual labor may have reduced the visibility of fingerprints, facial recognition technology is the top of the line for preventing buddy punching. The biometric readers scan the minutia of the fingerprint or the facial structure and can block punches if the employee is not recognized as who they are punching in for. Some time clock devices are even equipped with a camera to snap a picture of the person that is attempting to clock in for a “buddy”.
Once biometric technology is in place, the temptation to ask fellow employees to illegally punch in for them is greatly reduce, because they know it will not be effective and there is an added risk for the person who would have illegally clocked in for them.
Step 2: Choose the Correct Workforce Management Software for Your Industry
When evaluating which workforce management system or human capital management system to put in place, it is important to choose someone who is familiar with the challenges of an hourly workforce and your industry, and is on top of time theft control.
Look for a system that has advanced analytics that can identify problem work sites so that that you can flag where open punches are coming from and can crack down on problems. You will need the ability to analyze any clocking in and out patterns to detect abnormalities so that you can put necessary corrective procedures in place.
An advanced automated system should also be able to provide automatic warnings about any suspicious clocking in behavior. You should be able to configure your system so that managers can receive real-time alerts on SMS or email when a flagging event occurs.
Step 3: Implement an Automated Employee Performance Monitoring System
Encourage positive attendance practices through the use of an automated employee performance monitoring system, set up by your workforce management system. Configure your performance monitoring system by assigning point values for positive or negative criteria that either rewards an employee when they have had a string of good attendance, or reprimands employees if they have a series of bad attendance behaviors, like clocking in late or leaving early.
Set up automated alerts for when the employee exceeds the set threshold, so that a manager can reward them or discipline them as needed.
Step 4: Back Up Your Technology with Policy
To stop buddy punching for good, you need to have a zero-tolerance policy in place to back up your technology. The hardware and software that you put in place is the first line of defense against buddy punching, but it cannot be completely effective unless when a transgression occurs it is dealt with effectively.
Although a warning may be allowed the first time, stricter enforcement like the threat of termination should be used for second time offenses so that the gravity of the situation is understood by your employees.
How EPAY Systems Can Help You Eliminate Buddy Punching
EPAY Systems’ workforce management technology was designed for hourly workforces with hard to track and dispersed employees, and has been in the business of helping employers reduce labor costs for over 15 years.
EPAY’s biometric time clocks and mobile app with GPS, are now both equipped with leading facial recognition technology along with fingerprint readers, making time theft and buddy punching virtually impossible. Further, our automated employee performance monitoring assigns point values based on customizable criteria, so you can reward or discipline employees accordingly.
We deliver analytics to your fingertips that allow you to identify where the real problems are, such as excessive open punches, correction lags and changes to time sheets. You can monitor individual site performance against your company benchmarks, keep tabs on your labor budget in real time and identify problem areas, so you can put corrective policies and procedures in place.