Small Business Help

3 Ways to Prevent Buddy Punching

Joseph Patterson | May 10, 2017

How do I stop my employees from clocking in for each other?

Unless you’re a character in a Shakespeare comedy or happen to have an identical twin, chances are you’ve never successfully taken on the identity of another person as a means of getting what you want.But posing as someone else isn’t always that bold. Business owners may notice micro-deception in everyday office life. Believe it or not, one of the most common ways a company can lose money on payroll is through time theft via “buddy punching.” In fact, new research has found that buddy punching costs US employers more than $373 million each year. Buddy punching is essentially when colleagues pose as another employee and manipulate their friend’s time card, especially in cases where one is running late or absent from the job site. Buddy punching can be tempting for even the most honest hourly employees — employees who’d rather not be reprimanded for tardiness or who can’t afford to lose any valuable minutes on their paycheck. And yes, buddy punching is possible, even with digital timesheets. But technology is one step ahead of us. It’s solving the buddy punching phenomenon one time tracking feature at a time.

1. TSheets Kiosk Photo Capture

Using a cloud-based time tracking system is the best way to easily review and approve employee hours. But you might ask: Can’t employees still buddy punch, even if they have a unique PIN or password? Yes, unfortunately. It’s just a matter of employees sharing their login information with their buddy. That's why TSheets developed TSheets Time clock kiosk, an employee punch clock with photo capture functionality. Enabling this feature on your kiosk automatically requires each employee to smile for the camera before clocking in for a job each day. Employee photos are kept on their timesheet, right next to their name and timestamp. If you have identical twins on staff who are punching in and out for one another, that’s one thing. If not, TSheets Kiosk photo capture can help eliminate buddy punching from your business once and for all. Before approving submitted time cards, admins can who clocked in for each entry. 

2. GPS-Enabled Mobile Time Clock

Buddy punching is much more difficult if your employees use the TSheets mobile app to clock in and out each day. Simply enable the employee GPS tracking feature and TSheets will ping each employee’s location when they clock in, clock out, or change job codes. Ideal for mobile workforces or crews that move from job site to job site, GPS points are pulled every 10 minutes as long as an employee is on the clock. If an employee clocks in, but isn’t in the office or on the job site, you’ll know. Need to check on employees throughout the day? Easy. Employers can check who is working — and where — using the Who’s Working window.When employees know their location is attached to their time card, they'll be less likely to clock in before arriving at work.Not sure how employees will respond to on-the-clock GPS tracking? Get the facts!

3. Biometric Time Tracking

Biometric time clocks are one way to make sure employees clocking in are not punching the clock twice, disguised as someone else. Biometrics is the use of advanced technology like fingerprint or facial recognition to identify who is clocking in, thus making it impossible for imposters to buddy punch. The latest technology has made it possible for facial recognition and retina scanning — and even a combination of the two — to keep a record of employees clocking in and out. But not even biometrics are hack-proof. And as we always say, you don't need to employ a cyborg workforce to prevent buddy punching. There are easier ways!

Time Tracking on Your Side

Buddy punching can be frustrating. But much like Shakespeare’s identity-bending Viola and the twins in “The Parent Trap,” the expensive employee loophole will soon be a thing of the past. Thanks to technology, we’ve found a more accurate and honest time tracking system that eliminates the risk of time theft through buddy punching.

Have you ever had a problem with buddy punching in your business? What steps did you take to prevent it? Share your stories in the comments!

A little about Joseph Patterson

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