A hot topic nowadays is the issue of time theft in the form of buddy punching in the workplace.
According to the American Payroll Association, nearly 75 percent of small businesses in the United States feel the impact of buddy punching.
We’ll first touch on what this term consists of and then cover ways to combat the issue and save your business money.
What is Buddy Punching?
In a nutshell, buddy punching is time theft that occurs when an employee accepts pay for the time that they did not work.
This happens when an employee uses a coworker, a “buddy”, to punch them in when they are not actually there. This could be to avoid getting into trouble with an employer or avoid missing out on pay for that period of time.
For example, say an employee is running a few minutes late. Frantic to avoid being in trouble with their boss and losing pay, they call a friend at work and ask them to punch their time card for them. This shows the employee was there on time and earning money despite the fact that they were not really there at that time.
Or maybe an employee leaves work early, convincing his coworker to punch him out when his shift ends.
We can’t always be on time all the time. It may seem innocent, but those 15 minutes here and there can really add up.
In a 2017 study, 16 percent of the 1,000 employees surveyed said that they had clocked in for a colleague. Apply those extra 15 minutes that are buddy-punched to all 78 million hourly employees working in the United States and you wind up with more than $373 million in unworked annual pay.
For small businesses, in particular, buddy punches can really pack a serious punch. For part-time hourly workers making the federal minimum wage of $7.25, buddy punching can account for up to $30,000 annually.
And time isn’t the only loss-- businesses are paying the same amount of money for fewer workers, and fewer workers means a loss of productivity.
And that’s just for workers coming in late. Some extreme cases show that buddy punches happen for employees trying to get extra overtime or who don’t show up to work at all.
So How Can You Prevent Buddy Punching?
Lay Down the Law
First things first: make it clear that buddy punching will not be tolerated. Set up a formalized punching policy and cover the topic during new employee onboarding. Outline the policy to all employees and make it clear that buddy punching is a fireable offense.
Other ways you can encourage good attendance among employees and avoid buddy punching is to create an environment that encourages punctuality and presence. Give out incentive awards to employees who consistently show up and show up on time.
Buddy punching is typically a symptom of a deeper problem-- if it is becoming a regular issue, take a look at your attendance policy and get to the root of why your employees are struggling to make it into work on time.
Make time to speak one-on-one with employees who might be struggling with attendance and making it work on time. If a long commute or other factors are impacting their arrival time, work with them to find a solution.
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Technology gives business owners a wide variety of options when it comes to tools for combatting buddy punching. Employee time clock software offers an assortment of solutions to buddy punch issues.
Doing away with outdated punch cards to make way for modernized time clock systems with sufficient security and password settings will eliminate the opportunity for employees to punch in on behalf of their coworkers.
Using passwords that employees are unlikely to share, such as social security numbers, reduces the chance that employees will buddy punch. Having complex password requirements also helps eliminate buddy punching. Require passwords with numbers, special characters, and capital letters. Another solution is requiring passwords that need to be routinely updated every few months.
Installing barcode and RFID scanners can also make sure that each employee’s punch-in method is more difficult to buddy punch.
Almost everyone these days has a smartphone. Timekeeping software can use geofencing to keep track of employee hours and location.
Geofencing is an unseen virtual boundary line that defines a specific area. The parameters of the geofence can be set by management. In timekeeping software, geofencing will block employees from clocking in or out when they aren’t inside the geofenced area.
Some geofences go as far as automatically clocking in employees when they enter the geofence and out when they aren’t within the boundary lines. This eliminates the need to manually clock in and out altogether. This also makes buddy punching next to impossible.
Geofencing sounds like the ultimate end to buddy punching but the cost for the software can run very high. For smaller businesses, this price tag can be a deal-breaker.
GPS tracking is a great alternative to Geofencing. Timekeeping software uses mobile GPS to keep tabs on employees by GPS-stamping their time and location. When an employee clock in, the stamp shows their location at that time. If they aren't physically on location, the tracker can prevent them from clocking in or out.
Timekeeping apps can also keep an eye on employee location and send updates as needed to ensure that time isn't wasted.
ClockShark’s Employee Time Clock
ClockShark's employee time clock offers tools that make combatting buddy punches a breeze. It specializes in timekeeping for businesses with workers in the field, where they can be difficult to track.
Everything you need is right there in the mobile app. This means you don’t have to buy any extra equipment to track employee punching times.
Almost everyone has a smartphone, but if you have workers that are clinging to their flip phones you’re still covered-- ClockShark’s CrewClock lets a supervisor or foreman punch in for them.
ClockShark’s online timesheets allow you to view employee time and work details from anywhere with an internet connection. The web dashboard lets you see every clock in and clock out your crew did along with what they did and where they were.
The mobile app uses GPS tracking to watch location and gives timestamps to track workers in the field. ClockShark's cloud-capability means you can view the data from anywhere and stay in touch with remote employees.
Timekeeping apps like ClockShark’s are the easy solution to buddy punching. Cost-effective and efficient, it helps small businesses save money and increase productivity.
Using cloud-based employee time clock software closes the loopholes needed to buddy punch. By ditching outdated punch-in methods, you make sure workers show up on time and be productive.