How to Prevent Buddy PunchingWays to prevent time theft and track employee shifts

‘Buddy punching’ is a growing workplace phenomenon.

And although it may seem like a relatively insignificant violation, the reality is that UK businesses are haemorrhaging money.

As such, it is now widely recognised as a unique type of fraud and time theft in its own right.

However, resolving the issue isn’t as straightforward as reprimanding offending employees. After all, a buddy punching culture may have become entrenched in your workforce with one survey finding 16% of workers have altered a timesheet for their colleague.

But what is buddy punching and how can it be resolved? Let’s take a look at some practical tips.

What is buddy punching—and why are staff doing it?

Buddy punching or 'buddy clocking' is where staff members clock in on behalf of their colleagues who have not yet arrived for their shift. Although it might look like the odd 5 or 10 minutes here and there, it means businesses are paying staff for time that they have not physically worked.

Yet the motive behind buddy punching is a lot more complex. For instance, staff might be running a few minutes late to the start of their shift and may fear a 15-minute cut to their wages or a disciplinary for being late. So, they ask a colleague to clock in ahead of their arrival.

Employees may even be unaware of the severity of the act as, to them, it makes only a few minutes' difference. Besides, it can easily be missed by management when the business is too busy to take attendance notes.

But punctuality is not the only driving factor behind time theft. Evidence suggests that buddy punching typically takes place when staff feel dissatisfied with their role, workplace or rota. And staff who loathe their shifts are more likely to run late and engage in buddy punching as a sheer act of resistance.

Methods to prevent buddy punching

The good news is that preventative methods can be established immediately—so let’s take a look at some tried-and-tested methods.

Talk to staff

Holding a staff meeting ahead of any changes you make could be the key to cutting the practice out entirely.

If a ‘buddy punching culture’ has gripped your workplace already, instead of disciplining each employee, approach the situation with open dialogue. Inform them of the costs but also encourage an open and honest discussion.

Staff could be disgruntled with their shift patterns, the rota or a whole host of personal reasons. For example, some might struggle to drop their children off at school which makes meeting that 9am sharp start far more difficult.

But you’ll need to determine if staff are buddy punching for one another deliberately out of defiance, or if they are ultimately unhappy.

Go digital for scheduling and clocking in

The rota can be a main source for your workplace woes. Indeed, shift creation can be one of the least desirable responsibilities of management.

However, if the rota is late and shifts continually infringe on employees’ work-life balance, for instance by forgetting their holiday allowance or weekend requests, you’re more likely to suffer from an unhappy workforce. And then staff resort to buddy punching.

But with smart scheduling software, you can create a schedule that harmonises with your staff and businesses’ needs in one accessible platform.

Findmyshift not only assists managers in the shift creation stage, but helps them to plan in advance, monitor attendance and cater for time off requests and some well needed respite.

In turn, this boosts punctuality, eliminates last minute changes and minimises those moments of panic to find cover.

What’s more, its in-built time clock allows you to ditch paper sheets and timecards. Our terminal allows employees to sign in when they arrive at work, and can photograph staff as they arrive to ensure they really are starting their shift when they’re meant to be.

Outline action in the employee handbook

Finally, to reinforce that your company will no longer tolerate or turn a blind eye to buddy punching, you can address the issue in the employee handbook.

Here, you should clearly outline the implications and the discipline procedure for staff who continue to defy the rules.

With these tips and written employee guidelines to back you up, buddy punching will be a thing of the past in your small business.

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