Despite the playful name, buddy punching is actually a serious problem for many businesses. It can lead to a host of issues operationally and financially and cause serious problems with operations, staff morale, and productivity. It’s definitely not something any business wants to be friends with!
In this article we’re going to look at the steps managers can take to eliminate buddy punching and prevent it from impacting a business.
What Is Buddy Punching?
Buddy punching is when an employee gets another employee to clock in or out of work for them. It usually happens if they’re running late before starting work. It might seem innocent if done once or twice. However, over time, this can impact the bottom line of your business in a big way.
According to the American Payroll Association (APA), buddy punching can account for a 2.2% loss of gross payroll in a business. Now you can see why the other name for buddy punching doesn’t sound so innocent—time theft.
Here’s how you can prevent buddy punching in your business:
Start with a Clear Policy for Time Theft
The most important step you can take is to have a clear policy for time theft. Lay out, in detail, what constitutes time theft or buddy punching, as well as what the consequences are if an employee is caught. This needs to be put down in writing and included in your employee handbook.
Make sure that you include why buddy punching is a problem for the company. If your employees understand that they’re costing the business money and this could put their jobs in jeopardy, they may well be more inclined to not do it.
Switch to a Digital Time Tracker
A digital means of tracking time and work hours for each employee is far more difficult to cheat than a paper system where employees physically sign in. Even punch or swipe cards are easy to cheat with—employees simply need to hand them off to each other for use.
There are many types of digital systems. A cloud-based system that stores the time tracking details online is great. It will help prevent time theft, and it will make tracking billable hours and payroll that much easier.
Set Personal Passwords for Each Employee
Once you’re onto a digital system, you can start to add extra layers of complexity and security. A specific password that needs to be entered by an employee to log their time in and out of the word day helps to make it harder for time theft.
Of course, passwords can be shared. The trick here is to use a password that’s got personal information or sensitive data in it for each employee. Use part of an employee’s social security number, for example, and they’ll be less likely to share that with their colleagues.
Link Time Tracking to GPS or IP Addresses
You can also link your time tracking system to specific devices or to an employee’s IP address. Each staff member will need to log into the system from their device or a designated IP address (the office or home). This makes it significantly harder for someone else to log in for another person. Plus, it automatically logs and stores all the information about time tracking in the cloud for management to keep an eye on with ease.
You can also use a GPS system or geofence the digital tracking software. This means that an employee won’t be able to log into the system if they aren’t in a designated workspace. You won’t find that someone was on the bus on the way to work and quickly logged in via their smartphone to try to fool the system.
A GPS system can be very helpful if you have employees who are on the go all the time—moving from meeting to meeting or site to site. You can track their device movements and ensure that they’re where they’re meant to be. This can assist your business by checking how much time that person spends in traffic while on the clock and let you work out if there is a more effective way of operating.
Implement Biometric Scanners
Fingerprint identification and facial recognition software have become completely commonplace now. We all have it on our smartphones and many laptops and tablets. So, why not implement it in your office or place of business?
If each employee needs to actively scan their fingerprint or their face to get into the building, it’ll make time theft next to impossible. Additionally, you don’t need to invest a huge amount of money for fancy equipment. A few tablets and the right software are all you need to make it effective.
Offer Flexibility in Working Hours and Staff Rotas
Once you have the right time tracking solution in place, it’s time to look at why time theft is occurring. If employees are struggling to get to work on time because of commuting conditions or personal living conditions, it’s possible to make business changes to assist with this.
Offering flexible working hours or updating the staff rotas can go a long way toward improving attendance and tardiness.
See if You Can Shift Working Relationships to Prevent Buddy Punching
Time theft is often a sign that an employee is disengaged from the company and their work. If an employee isn’t engaged, then they won’t feel any strong obligation to be on time or care too much if they steal time from the company. This often comes down to the company culture.
Take some time to talk to your employees about why people are late and how they feel about working for your company. You may find some invaluable insights into how your business is operating and where you could improve.
Don’t Let Your Employees Steal a Valuable Resource – Company Time
Buddy punching is theft and needs to be dealt with accordingly. With the right strategies and systems in place, you can prevent this theft. You can also ensure that your employees are happier and more willing to work harder for your business.