What is "buddy punching"? It's that not-uncommon-enough phenomenon in which one employee clocks in (or out for another, skewing the amount of time that employee actually worked). A 2014 American Payroll Association study found that this problem is far too prevalent: three out of four companies are losing money to buddy punching. And those companies are losing a lot of money due to this problem: Nucleus Research found that buddy punching costs “average 2.2% of gross payroll.” That looks like a small number at first glance, but if you consider that companies are paying millions in payroll, that adds up to a lot. However, many companies aren't sure how to stop buddy punching.
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We present three ways to eliminate buddy punching, decrease your labor costs, and ensure accuracy in payroll:
- Notifications: In addition to buddy punching, a problem is that employees might arrive later than their expected start time, but then they might use the excuse that they forgot to clock in to explain why their time is inaccurate.
The pros: Using alerts to notify employees that they haven’t clocked in stops this excuse.
The cons: Using notifications by text or email would mean that your system needs to be digital (and not on paper), which (unless you choose the right system) might be a risky move without a return on investment.
- Biometrics: From fingerprints to hand outlines and face recognition, biometrics allow access the tool that all humans carry with them every day: their body.
The pros: This is an often-lauded method of preventing buddy punching because it’s not physically possible for one employee to punch in for another.
The cons: The downside of this, however, is that biometrics aren’t foolproof. Living beings change, so the system would require maintenance. Plus, the system could give false positives and false rejections, both of which are problems for opposite reasons: allowed employees might be stuck outside of the system while non-allowed employees might have no problem getting in.
A major downside is that biometrics also store personal physical data.
- A virtual time clock app: Physical punch clocks are becoming obsolete, so new technology (with GPS) provides more flexibility.
Pro #1: Employees who travel have the opportunity to log their time (and location using GPS) with a time clock app so that their employer can verify their hours. Without an app like this, it can be difficult to verify that an employee’s time and place logs are accurate. Homecare nurses, for example, can just clock in using an authentication system, do their work, and then clock out when they’re finished with a patient.
Pro #2: Another bonus associated with a powerful time clock app like DATABASICS Time is the benefit of geo-fencing, which requires users to clock in only at a certain place. This provides addtional data for administrators to make their employees accountable for not only when they clock in, but where they clock in too.
With this system, users are also restricted to clocking in using only their registered device, so a buddy can't log themselves out and log another employee in using their tablet or phone. With technology that requires a specific registered device within a specific GPS location, it's more difficult than ever to falsify a time sheet.
This system prevents the need for constant maitenance and the risk inherent in storing sensitive personal data. Rather than storing specific personal data, project codes combined with GPS and registered devices provide three kinds of data about the employee's timesheet to allow for even easier auditing and verification of time worked.
Pro #3: Combined with DATABASICS Expense, the newest features of DATABASICS Time puts an employee's whole travel and payroll system into one simple system. With Expense, now users don't need multiple apps, so buddy punching is better avoided because everything is in one place for mileage tracking and reimbursement and even per diems.
The future of DATABASICS timesheet tracking is in facial recognition, making buddy punching even more difficult than ever for one employee to clock in for another.
The cons: A virtual time clock app needs a powerful system behind it that integrates with payroll for maximum return on investment. It will take a powerful provider to make a virtual time clock work effectively.
If you're looking for how to avoid buddy punching, we hope these tips have been helpful. We know that there's always going to be a way for the most motivated employees to engage in time theft and falsifying their timesheets. Solving this problem in the biggest way might be considering the employee's motivation, ethics, and how much they care about the company. Keeping employees motivated and honest means being honest with them and treating them with respect. Or, as leadership coach Lolly Daskal says:
Get help on evaluating which employee time tracking software is right for your needs with a free guide on how to choose Time & Expense software.
DATABASICS provides cloud-based, next generation Expense Reporting, P-Card Management, Timesheet Management, Leave Management, and Invoice Processing automation. Specializing in meeting the most rigorous requirements, DATABASICS offers the highest level of service to its customers around the world.
DATABASICS is relied upon by leading organizations representing all the major sectors of the global economy: financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, research, retail, engineering, non-profits/NGOs, technology, federal contractors, and other sectors.