Biometric technology is fascinating, no two ways about it. Turn on any TV—CSI, anyone?—and chances are, you’ll see facial and fingerprint biometrics at work. The hero feeds a photo or fingerprint into a giant computer and—voilà!—the bad guy’s identity is revealed.
But not all biometrics are used in such dramatic fashion. A growing number of employers are quietly utilizing biometrics-based workforce management systems on a daily basis to improve how they track employee time and attendance.
Furthermore, some TLM system providers have differentiated themselves by making biometric time clocks more accessible, affordable and easy to use.
If your company manages an hourly workforce and operates on lean margins, a biometric TLM system isn’t a futuristic luxury; it’s a necessity. It’s also an employer’s single best defense against buddy punching, an insidious form of time theft that costs U.S. companies billions of dollars each year.
Why TLM Systems Should Combat Buddy Punching
There’s a reason your company uses a workforce management system to track employee time and attendance. As an employer, you have a legal obligation to pay your employees fully and accurately for all hours worked.
At the same time, you can’t afford to pay employees for time they haven’t really worked. Humans being humans, there are always some workers who will try to game the system.
While there are many forms of time theft, buddy punching—when one employee punches in or out for another at the time clock—is the hardest to prevent, even with some types of workforce management software in place.
For example, if your TLM system relies on punch cards, swipe cards or PINs, creative buddy punchers can easily outsmart it. It’s as simple as handing off a swipe card to a pal. Don’t think your employees would do that? Statistics say otherwise.
According to Nucleus Research, 74% of employers experience payroll losses averaging 2.2% of gross payroll due to buddy punching—a fact supported by survey after survey. For example:
- In a survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 21% of employees admitted to committing time theft, 5% via buddy punching.
- Earlier this year, in an independent survey of 1,000 employees, 16% said they had clocked in or out for a coworker.
- In another survey of shift workers, a whopping 23% said they engaged in buddy punching to inflate their paychecks.
Of course, these numbers reflect only those employees who felt comfortable admitting it. It’s safe to assume the actual numbers are higher!
But that last survey also revealed something else. While self-identified time thieves admitted to outwitting a number of TLM systems—paper timesheets, traditional time clocks, web portals and mobile time tracking apps—only 3% could outmaneuver a biometric time clock.
We’re not sure how that 3% could achieve it, if they truly did. But we are sure that using biometric workforce management software is the most effective way to deter buddy punching as well as other forms of time theft. Here’s why.
How Fingerprint, Facial and Other Biometrics Work
Biometric time clocks work by measuring each employee’s unique physical characteristics, using various methodologies, which include:
Fingerprint Biometrics: Fingerprint biometrics are the most common type of biometric workforce management technology. As the name implies, it involves measuring and comparing employee fingerprints against data stored in the TLM system.
Hand Geometry Biometrics: Hand geometry recognition uses the 3D shape of an employee’s hand to verify identity. It’s rarer and more expensive than fingerprint biometrics.
Retinal Biometrics: Retinal biometrics use images of eye patterns (retina and iris) to confirm identity. Although accurate, this technology is not as popular as other biometric methods.
Facial Biometrics: Facial biometrics involve measuring and matching each worker’s unique facial characteristics (i.e., the distance between the eyes, the shape of the jawline, etc.) for authentication purposes. Facial biometrics are growing in popularity, particularly for employers whose workers are engaged in manual labor that can impact the quality of their fingerprint images.
Biometric technology is highly accurate, and as you would expect, virtually impossible to trick.
Nor is privacy a concern. Most biometric TLM systems don’t store fingerprint or photo images directly. Rather, the workforce management software turns each image into a mathematical code, destroys the actual image, and uses that stored code to verify identity at the time clock.
Does using biometric workforce management software lengthen the clock-in process? No. Once employees are registered in the TLM system (i.e., fingerprints or facial images are uploaded to the TLM database—a simple, one-time process), it’s as fast as swiping a card or entering a PIN.
Learn about EPAY’s Biometric TLM System
If you’d like to learn more about workforce management systems with biometrics, start with us. Our powerful time clocks feature both fingerprint and facial biometrics that will deter buddy punching and lower your labor costs.
Managing a mobile workforce? Our advanced mobile time tracking app also offers facial biometrics—a hard-to-find feature that will make a real difference.
Biometric technology is real, it’s here, and it works. See for yourself: schedule a no-pressure demo with EPAY.