What the Heck is Buddy Punching and Can I Please Put a Stop to It?

If you’re an employer of labour, the odds are you are paying the painful price of this venom called ‘buddy punching’ even if you are completely out of the loop on what it is or what to call it. If you’re an HR executive, chances are, you have heard about it, tried to wrap your head around it, even argued about it but was never able to prove the crime beyond reasonable doubt.

So let’s loop you in shall we — CC you — PS: Disregard the picture above, that is so not what buddy punching is all about. Instead, BUDDY PUNCHING (Hurts to even type it) is when one employee (we’ll call him John Cheater) asks a coworker (whom we shall call Bob Abettor) to clock-in or out for him so it appears that he arrived earlier or left later than he actually did. Abettor is able to mask Cheater’s absence in this way for minutes or hours… even an entire work day, while Cheater is away on other business. Shame on him!

Buddy punching is historically the most damaging misdemeanor. In short, it is cheating. No matter what excuse Cheater might have for being late or absent, just like his last name, he has cheated his employer — as he is earning pay for more time than he actually worked, and at the same time avoiding penalties for showing up late, leaving early, and so on.

To illustrate how significant this problem could be, consider that companies in the United States lose about $400 Billion annually to buddy-punching alone (that’s Billion with a ‘B’). A Nucleus Research report postulates that around 19% of workers have admitted to buddy punching for a coworker. The American Payroll Association further reports that this type of time theft accounts for 2.2% of payroll losses and almost 75% of all companies are affected by the practice.

Since we are humans, we agree that time theft is not always premeditated or outrightly dishonest – sometimes employees encounter unforeseen circumstances that compel them to be away from work and are often reluctant to report their absence. That still does not dispel the fact that time theft drains company resources.

Beyond the immediate consequence, employee-morale is diminished as well — staff become disgruntled over earning the same as colleagues who haven’t put in as much work, and putting in more hours than usual to compensate for the absentees — which in turn diminishes productivity.

Can I please put a final stop to buddy punching?

The good news is that the ideal time attendance management solution can help to put an end to buddy punching and thereby stop rewarding employees for cheating you and inflating your payroll.

Time attendance management solutions enforce the attendance of employees on-time, on-site and on-task. These systems appeared first in the shape of manual time cards in the early years of industrialization – for workers to punch-in and out with, on arrival to and departure from work. Workers would push a time-card into a slot on a modified clock, and the date and time would be imprinted on that card. The cards would then be cataloged and archived and would function as reference records for time and attendance.

As with manual timekeeping, however, the punching system is vulnerable to human error. What’s more, every manual and outdated time and attendance system has loopholes and can easily be beaten. A sizable amount of man-hours and resources (paper, files, filing-space) are used up when running these antiquated systems. Therefore, these systems rarely hold any real functional value in contemporary workplaces.

Hmm, I hear you. So What should the fix look like?

Assuming you have a detailed attendance policy in place with carefully stipulated rewards and punishments for early-birds and defaulters respectively, you can back this up with a time attendance management solution. This solution should have the following capabilities;

Biometric Clock-in and Clock- out –  

The only way to truly do away with buddy punching is through the use of biometrics. This could be fingerprint scanners, iris scanners, facial recognition, and other metrics of body calculation. Making use of a time attendance management solution that employs the biometric means of identification will ensure that members of staff cannot be impersonated or ‘helped’ to clock in.

Mobile, No Hardware Installation –

A mobile time attendance management system will cater to multiple locations compared to a stationed hardware. This will give you a birds-eye-view of all your workforce spread across multiple workstations even without being physically present. You can even go further with a solution that is always in your employee’s pockets so that they have no excuse why they couldn’t clock-in.

Offline Clock-in Feature –

Speaking about leaving no room for excuses, the ideal time and attendance solution should be able to record a successful clock-in even without internet connection so late or absent employs are not given the chance to say “I resumed on time but there was no internet to clock-in”.

Real-time Reports Without Human Interference –

Look for a system that would feed you with detailed attendance reports in real-time, such that as employees are clocking-in to work, or clocking-out of work, you get instant automated reports. Moreover, since it is automated, there are no chances of human-error and reports remain untainted. Besides keeping you in the loop, these reports will ensure that you can — easily identify problem workstations; detect abnormalities in your attendance policies; even serve as proof in case of litigation.  

Employee Dashboard –

Employees should not be kept out of the loop. The ideal time attendance management solution should have a detailed performance dashboard for employees, showing them, daily, their resumption time, break duration and closing time. This will discourage arguments, and encourage positive changes.

Basically, The Fix should look like iClocker. This mobile, cloud-based, biometric time attendance management solution is the formidable tested and trusted opponent to combat buddy punching and can save your business in more ways than one. SEE FOR YOURSELF.

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