Time theft has significant direct and indirect costs. Paying employees for time they haven’t actually worked is just the first line of expense. Employee time theft also costs billions annually in lost productivity. A 2015 study conducted by Software Advice, a software review site, found that nearly half of all workers engage in time theft and they do it on over 75 percent of their shifts. The study also found that employers using a time and attendance software with a biometric time clock only experienced a scant three percent of employees reporting they were able to steal time. When we look at the ways employees can engage in time theft and how biometric time clocks work, it becomes obvious how using biometric clocks shuts down most of the ways workers can steal time – and, ultimately, prevent time theft.
How the biometric time clock works
A biometric time clock uses a physical characteristic that’s unique to each individual to verify who’s punching in and out. Fingerprint scanners are the most common biometric technique used, but other options include retinal or face scans, and voice or hand prints.
Each employee “enrolls” in the system by providing the biometric characteristic used by that time clock. Don’t worry, the system doesn’t store an image file of any of these scans. Depending on what’s being scanned and the specific solution, the system converts what it scans into a different format, such as a complex visual code or digit string. Also keep in mind that the scanners aren’t just assessing surface visuals, but also look at details like veins.
Once employees are enrolled, they enter in an identifying code (like an employee or PIN number) and get scanned by the biometric clock, either by placing their finger on the scanner or standing in front of the clock so their eye or face can be scanned. The scan is again converted and compared to the enrollment sample. A match and the time punch is accepted. No match and the time punch is rejected. It’s as simple as that.
It’s due exactly to the way the time and attendance solution stores the biometric data that makes it functionally impossible for an employee to clock in for another employee. High-resolution images of fingerprints or eyeballs aren’t going to fool the clock.
How employees commit time theft
The truth is that your employees have multiples means of stealing time while on the job. One of the most common and costliest is buddy punching, when a fellow employee punches an employee in when they’re not there.
The opportunity to buddy punch occurs at multiple times throughout the day. The typical employee has a total of eight punches for a full work day: when they arrive and leave for the day, and leaving and returning from lunch and their two breaks. Say you have a workforce of 200 employees. Let’s multiply 200 by the eight daily punches by the average 11 workdays per pay period. That’s 17,600 opportunities for buddy punching and inflated payroll you risk every pay period. This calculation doesn’t even consider those times when workers with different roles at different pay rates have to punch in and out when they switch tasks.
While other forms of time theft exist, like too much socializing while on the clock or faking sick days, the bulk of your costs for time theft comes from the accumulation of thousands of buddy punches. End buddy punching time theft by implementing a biometric time clock time and attendance solution, and you’ve cut off a significant loophole that’s bleeding your revenue.
If you want to learn more about the range of biometric time clocks available to you, contact us today. You can also check out How the Right Time Clock Can Improve Time and Attendance Reporting to make sure your company is only paying for time worked.