Buddy punching is a serious problem that plagues many businesses today. This type of employee time theft occurs when one worker clocks in or out for a colleague who is not present, allowing them to receive payment for hours they did not work.
While it may seem like a small favor between colleagues, the financial impact of buddy punching can be significant, costing companies thousands of dollars each year.
For you as an employer, it’s essential to understand the severity of this issue and take steps to prevent it from happening in your workplace.
In this article, we will explore what buddy punching is, how it affects your business, and most importantly, how to stop it in its tracks.
So, if you’re ready to safeguard your company’s finances and productivity, let’s dive in.
What Is Buddy Punching?
The simplest buddy punching definition is the unethical practice of one employee clocking in or out for another, acting as a time clock buddy. It is a form of time theft that can cost companies money, as well as harm workplace morale and trust.
Typically, buddy punching occurs when an employee asks a coworker to clock in or out for them, even though they are not actually present or have already left. This can allow the absent employee to be paid for time they did not work, or avoid being penalized for being late or leaving early.
Buddy punching can also lead to other problems, such as inaccurate payroll records and overpayment of wages.
The Cost Of Buddy Punching To Your Business
Buddy punching may seem like a harmless way for employees to cover for each other, but in reality, it can have a significant cost to your business.
The most obvious cost is the financial impact of paying employees for time they did not work.
The American Society of Employers estimates that 20 percent of every dollar earned by a US company is lost to employee time theft.
According to asap payroll service, the cost of buddy punching could average $1,560 per employee over the course of a year, costing US companies $373 million annually.
Even if buddy punching seems small, it compounds.
Other Consequences Of Buddy Punching
The cost of buddy punching goes beyond just financial implications, however. It can also harm workplace morale and trust.
When employees engage in buddy punching, it can create resentment among those who are working hard and following the rules.
This can lead to a decline in productivity, as employees may feel that their hard work is not being recognized or rewarded.
Buddy punching can contribute to a sense of unfairness and inequality in the workplace. When some employees are allowed to get away with cheating the system, it can make other employees feel that they are not being treated equally.
This can lead to feelings of resentment and disengagement, as employees may feel that their efforts are not valued or appreciated.
Furthermore, the negative impact of buddy punching can be contagious, as it can spread through the workplace and lead to other forms of misconduct.
Negative Company Culture
Apart from the financial damages to your business, the most dangerous result of buddy punching is that it can result in a broken workplace culture.
If employees believe that there is a culture of dishonesty in the workplace, they may be more likely to engage in other forms of unethical behavior, which can further damage engagement and productivity.
How To Identify Buddy Punching
Identifying buddy punching is an important step in preventing time theft in the workplace. Here are some common signs that can help you identify when buddy punching is occurring:
Inconsistent arrival times
If you notice that certain employees are arriving at work at the same time every day, it may be a sign that they are engaging in buddy punching.
Frequent corrections to timecards
If you find that you need to make frequent corrections to an employee’s time card, it may be a sign that they arn’t being honest about their clock in times. This can be especially true if the corrections consistently involve the same employees.
Similar attendance patterns
If you notice that two or more employees have similar attendance patterns, such as always taking the same days off, it may be a sign that they are engaging in buddy punching.
Multiple employees clocking in for one person
If you notice that multiple employees are clocking in for the same person, it is a clear sign that buddy punching is occurring.
How to Prevent Buddy Punching
As a business owner, there are steps that you can take to prevent buddy punching and ensure that employees are being paid fairly for the work they actually perform. Here are some effective strategies for stopping buddy punching:
Use time and attendance software
Implementing a time and attendance tracking software that requires employees to use their own unique login credentials or biometric data, such as a fingerprint or facial recognition, to clock in and out, can effectively prevent buddy punching.
Additionally, software that has GPS tracking capabilities can show you exactly where an employee punches in and out of work.
Conduct regular audits
Regularly reviewing employee time records and attendance patterns can help identify potential instances of buddy punching, and deter employees from engaging in this behavior.
Create a culture of honesty and integrity
Emphasize the importance of honesty and integrity in the workplace, and provide clear consequences for those who engage in time theft. This can help create a culture of trust and fairness that discourages employees from engaging in buddy punching.
Train employees on the importance of timekeeping
Provide training for employees on the importance of accurately recording their time and the impact of buddy punching on the business. This can help increase awareness and reduce the likelihood of employees engaging in this behavior.
Monitor and enforce attendance policies
Enforce attendance policies consistently and fairly, and provide employees with clear guidelines on what is expected of them. This can help prevent employees from engaging in buddy punching and other forms of time theft.
Stopping buddy punching requires a multifaceted approach that involves implementing technology, creating a culture of honesty and integrity, providing employee training, and enforcing attendance policies.
How To Prevent Buddy Punching With Connecteam
With Connecteam’s time tracking app you can put an end to buddy punching once and for all. Connecteam’s Time Clock let’s you limit employees to clock in and out only from predefined jobsites. Your employees’ accounts are tied to their phone numbers, ensuring all clock-ins are real.
To be extra sure, you can even require your staff to take a selfie while clocking in to verify it is really them. When somebody tries to clock in or out outside of the approved geofence area you will be immediately notified and can accept or deny the action. These smart features help prevent buddy punching and ensure that managers have accurate timesheets for payroll.
Sign up for a free 14-day trial today and put an end to buddy punching and time theft
How To Handle Buddy Punching When It Happens
When buddy punching occurs, it is important to handle the situation promptly and professionally. Here are some steps that employers can take to address buddy punching:
Conduct an investigation
An investigation should be carried out to gather information from employees, review time records, and conduct interviews to determine the extent of the buddy punching and identify the individuals involved.
Confront the employees
The employees involved should be confronted and the incident discussed with them. It should be made clear that time theft is not acceptable in the workplace.
Depending on the severity of the incident, consequences may include a verbal warning, written warning, suspension, or termination. It is important to follow the company’s policies and procedures when enforcing consequences.
Prevent future incidents
To prevent future incidents, steps should be taken such as implementing time and attendance tracking software that requires employees to use their own unique login credentials or biometric data to clock in and out.
Employees should be provided with education and training on the importance of accurate timekeeping, and the negative impact that time theft can have on the business and on their fellow employees should be emphasized.
When an employee buddy punches, it typically suggests an underlying attendance issue. Work with your team to explore any gaps in the overall attendance policy.
If colleagues are routinely misusing the time clock and showing up late for work, larger issues like employee engagement or dissatisfaction need to be addressed. And no amount of tooling or tech stack will solve this without careful action from the employer.
An advanced time clock solution like Connecteam will keep you notified of irregularities to avoid costly errors and eliminate time theft and buddy punching for good.
Sign up for a free 14-day trial today and put an end to buddy punching and time theft