Having one employee punch in for another may not seem like a big deal, but it has outsized impacts on culture and productivity. Buddy punching is a pernicious problem that impacts businesses to the tune of billions of dollars a year.
This article will go through some of the ways a company can combat buddy punching for the benefit of everyone involved.
Have Clear Time and Attendance Policies
While this may seem like a somewhat obvious solution, it can be surprising how often a company simply does not clearly define its policies. Making sure that employees understand the policy from the beginning can go a long way to reducing buddy punching once they feel comfortable in their role.
By the beginning, companies should literally start when new employees undergo their initial training and should be reinforced multiple times throughout the process. Make sure that employees understand they are allowed to punch in themselves and only themselves or suffer clearly defined consequences.
If employees understand exactly what they risk by punching in someone else, they are far less likely to think of it as a simple favor. While a zero-tolerance policy is not necessary, make sure the consequences are significant enough to make the punching buddy feel like they are taking a risk.
Tackle the Problem Head On
Though this is likely not the biggest issue, making sure that an employee who breaks the rules suffers consequences is paramount to ensuring that the rules do not become idle threats. As such, when an employee is caught buddy punching, going through the proper disciplinary action is a must.
Keep in mind, if the policies are clear from the outset, this should require little to no individual judgment on the part of the supervisor. In fact, unequal enforcement of the rules can erode company culture and generate the distrust and resentment that might lead to buddy punching in the first place.
When an employee is first caught buddy punching, issue a codified warning and reinform them of the policy. Make sure that the employee understands explicitly what they did wrong and why as well as the graduating consequences they face should they buddy punch in the future.
Improve Company Culture
This one can be a bit tricky both in that it is a bit more intangible and also may require the company to look introspectively and change how it functions. Specifically, the company culture hinges both on how the employees view the company but also how the company views the employees.
While many instances of buddy punching are caused by entitled employees, many are caused by employees with genuine grievances. Making sure to properly compensate employees who earn it is a big part of creating a good company culture that inherently dissuades people from taking the risks of buddy punching.
Likewise, making sure that employees are paid on time and feel as though they can talk honestly– even if it is not complimentary– helps build trust. Finally, when instituting new policies to prevent buddy punching, make sure not to go overboard and install draconian “big brother” or micromanaging policies that will generate resentment.
While “soft” methods may work on some employees, there will often be one or two that are not worried about the risks or the impact they have on those around them. In this instance, stepping up the tools at disposal may be a necessary step, but thankfully there is plenty of technology to help companies out.
Literal tracking of employees can be one method to combat buddy punching, though this still presents with some limitations. The two most common forms of tracking are geofencing that tracks regionally and GPS that tracks specifically. While both of these methods allow companies to track the movements of employees, they require poring through data logs to do so.
An alternative to this method is using a biometric attendance management system which takes all of the guesswork out of employees punching in and makes spoofing a punch-in more trouble than it is worth. Biometric time clocks rely on biomarkers unique to a given individual and do not require going over tracking logs to see who was in a position to punch in for someone else.
In the end, buddy punching can either be something that costs a company points of profit or a problem that “other people” have to deal with. By using the tips provided in this article, any company should be able to handle incidents of buddy punching with its employees.
Keep in mind, allowing buddy punching to continue not only cuts into profits but also erodes corporate culture, potentially causing further problems in the future. Thankfully, with a combination of in-person solutions and the use of biometric tracking systems, buddy punching will become a thing of the past.