What is "buddy punching"? It's when one employee clocks in (or out) for another. As a result, the amount of time that employee actually worked is skewed. A 2014 American Payroll Association study found that this problem is far too prevalent. Specifically, three out of four companies lost money to buddy punching. Nucleus Research found that buddy punching costs “average 2.2% of gross payroll.” That looks like a small number at first glance. However, if you consider that companies are paying millions in payroll, that adds up to a lot. Overall, many companies aren't sure how to stop buddy punching.
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3 Buddy Punching Prevention Tips
Here are three ways to stop buddy punching, lower labor costs, and ensure accuracy.
- Notifications: Firstly, in addition to buddy punching, a problem is that employees might arrive later than their expected start time. Then they might use the reason that they forgot to clock in. That is, they need an excuse for why their time card 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). So, unless you choose the right system, it might be a risky move without a return on investment.
- Biometrics: Biometrics allow access the tool that all humans carry with them every day. That is to say that their physical body becomes their username and password.
The pros: This is one effective way of preventing buddy punching. That's 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. Additionally, the system could give false positives and false rejections. Both false positives and false negatives are problems for opposite reasons. For instance, 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. Sooner or later, that data might get hacked. So, it needs constant protection.
A Final Buddy Punching Prevention Tool
- A virtual time clock app: Physical punch clocks are becoming obsolete, so new technology (with GPS coordinates) provides more flexibility.
Pro #1: Employees who travel have the opportunity to log their time (and location using GPS) with a time clock app. That's so that their employer can verify their hours. However, it can be difficult to verify that an employee’s time and place logs are accurate. Home healthcare nurses, for example, can just clock in using an authentication system. Then, they can do their work and clock out when they’re finished with a patient.
Pro #2: In addition, another bonus is geo-fencing. To clarify, this requires users to clock in only at a certain place. As a result, you get additional data to make 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. As a result, a buddy can't log themselves out and log another employee in using their tablet or phone. Technology that requires a specific registered device makes it more difficult than ever to falsify a time sheet.
Pro #3: Combining DATABASICS Time & Expense puts an employee's whole travel and payroll system into one simple system. With Expense, users don't need multiple apps. So, everything is in one place for not only mileage tracking and reimbursement, but also per diems.
The con: A virtual time clock app needs a powerful system behind it. Also, it needs to integrate with payroll for maximum return on investment. It will take a powerful provider to make a virtual time clock work effectively.
Avoiding Buddy Punching At Its Roots
If you're looking for how to avoid buddy punching, we hope these tips have been helpful. However, we know that there's always going to be a way for the most motivated employees to engage in time theft. In the end, solving this problem might mean considering the employee themselves. Think about their 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 timesheet tracking software is right for your needs. Get 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. DATABASICS offers the highest level of service to its customers around the world and is relied upon by leading organizations in all major sectors of the global economy. These include financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, research, retail, engineering, non-profits/NGOs, technology, federal contractors, and other sectors.