Buddy punching, while not generally malicious, can become a major issue in construction labor management. With buddy punching, you can lose track of where your employees are, how much time they’re spending on each project, and when each project should be completed.
It’s about more than just lost wages and lost productivity—it’s about losing control of your team.
Here, we take a look at how to prevent buddy punching using a variety of time clock strategies and tools.
What Is Buddy Punching?
Buddy punching is when an employee has another employee clock in or out for them. This is usually done when the first employee is running late or needs to leave early, but it can also be for legitimate reasons, such as an employee working on a project off-site.
While frequently well-intentioned, buddy punching is time theft and can become a significant problem. It leads to employees getting paid for hours that they didn’t work, and it makes it harder to track their productivity.
How To Prevent Buddy Punching
There are a few things businesses can do to help prevent buddy punching, with varying degrees of effectiveness. A solid buddy punching strategy will incorporate the right technology, processes, and consequences for dealing with inappropriate hour tracking.
1. Time Tracking Apps
Employees log into a time tracking app and log their own time, like a digital time card. They report when they arrive on-site, when they depart, and when they take their breaks. As with paper timecards, this relies on the accuracy of the employee. An employee can start their clock at any time—and it’s up to them to report their hours correctly, because of this these systems are still susceptible to time clock fraud.
✓ Hours are accurately tracked once employees log in
✓ Employee hours are attributed to site and project
✓ Employers can log in to see whether employees are active
✕ Employees are responsible for reporting when they’re on-site
✕ Employees may forget to log breaks or clock out at the end of their shift
✕ Employers have no way of verifying the hours after logged
2. GPS Time Tracking With Phone Verification
GPS time tracking apps are the simplest way to accurately log employee hours and ensure people are where they claim to be. GPS tracking alone is not 100% foolproof because with a spare phone a buddy could still clock someone in on-site if they have their credentials.
Workyard goes one step further by also verifying your identity by sending a one-time code via SMS to the mobile associated with your account when you initially set up the app on your phone. Workyard’s phone verification ensures that it’s the right employee clocking in with their device. When the employee’s identity is tied to their device, buddy punching is completely eliminated.
3. On-Site Supervisors
If you don’t want to use a GPS tracking time clock app, another way to prevent buddy punching is to have on-site supervisors. On-site supervisors visually verify that employees are present and working. But this method is less effective and more expensive than GPS tracking, as it requires someone to be on-site at all times.
✓ Supervisors are accountable for logging time correctly
✓ Employees must be both on-site and active
✕ It can be expensive to maintain an on-site supervisor
✕ Supervisors may not always log time accurately
4. Zero-Tolerance Policies
For the employee, buddy punching appears more or less harmless. It’s just a few minutes, after all. But for the employer, these minutes add up. Over time, buddy punching can lead to huge losses in revenue and productivity.
In addition to technology, many companies can implement a zero-tolerance policy for buddy punching. If employees are aware that buddy punching could lead to consequences for them, they may be less likely to engage in it.
✓ Discourages employees from buddy punching
✓ Provides a process for correcting employees caught buddy punching
✕ Needs to be used in conjunction with other methods to be effective
5. Biometric Systems
Finally, another method of preventing buddy punching is with the help of a biometric system. With a biometric system, employees scan their fingerprints or faces to clock in or out. Only the employee can clock in and out since it’s impossible for another employee to fake their fingerprints or faces.
Biometric systems are more expensive than GPS time tracking solutions, but they’re also a very effective way to prevent buddy punching. Unfortunately, they can be prohibitively expensive to install on every site. GPS time clock apps can provide similar biometric authentication services through smartphone features.
✓ Your reporting is accurate and provided in real-time
✓ The identity of the employee is fully authenticated
✓ Employees find it simple and easy to use
✕ The product itself is expensive
✕ The physical scanner requires security and maintenance
✕ A new scanner is required for every site
Prevent Buddy Punching With Workyard
Buddy punching is just one of the complications that come along with having inaccurate time tracking. If your time clocks aren’t accurate, you:
- Are likely paying more in labor costs than you should
- Don’t know how much each project is costing you
- Aren’t properly calculating client reimbursements
- Won’t be able to accurately set deadlines
A GPS time clock solution like Workyard gives you the real-time, accurate labor data you need to not only track your current projects but provide estimates for your future ones.
Workyard is an accurate GPS-powered time tracking app that lets your organization manage its labor expenses in real-time. Prevent buddy punching by starting a free trial of Workyard today, or call (650) 332-8623 for more information.