Timeclocks are truly a necessity for tracking employee hours for productivity and payroll purposes. While punch cards or paper timesheets were the traditional way of recording employee arrivals and departures, biometric timekeeping systems that are part of cloud-based payroll software and human capital management systems have really changed the game, eliminating a lot of manual effort and room for error.
Benefits of Biometric Timekeeping
Using a simple fingerprint reader to record time in and out with payroll and timekeeping software eliminates fraudulent punches that result in compensating for hours not worked. Workforce.com writer Sarah Fister Gale cites a 2009 Harris Interactive Inc. study that shows that 21 percent of hourly employees admit they have stolen company time at work.
Biometric timekeeping significantly reduces time and labor fraud because it eliminates buddy punching (when a coworker punches or scans a timecard for an employee who isn’t really available to work). Biometrics require the employee to be present to clock in with either fingerprint scan, hand scan, retinal scan, or facial scan, whichever type of biometric device is being used. Punching is not valid if the clock does not recognize a match. Therefore, hours worked are more accurate, and money is not thrown away on buddy punching.
Just like any integrated timekeeping tool, many biometric solutions allow for the information in the timekeeping system to flow easily into the payroll or human capital management system. This type of configuration eliminates keying errors and reduces the amount of time spent on payroll.
Biometrics benefits employees as well because it’s more convenient than having to remember to carry a key or card.
Concerns about Biometrics
While biometrics can solve a lot of problems with timekeeping and payroll, they do trigger some concerns about privacy. Employees may worry about the use of biometrics-generated data, especially in regards to fingerprints. The body characteristics that biometrics measure can also reveal health issues which employees may not want employers to know about. While the majority of businesses wouldn’t even know how to retrieve any such data, employees may not believe that employers will limit the use of their biometric scan to in-house timekeeping processes. Instead, some fear that data might be used in “Big Brother” tactics. In addition, employees with religious beliefs against having their photos taken may object to certain biometric practices.
To improve the chances of a biometric system being accepted by employees, create a comprehensive policy with full disclosure about how and why data will be used, and how it will not be used. Inform employees that you are not storing retrievable information and explain in writing how you will protect their data. Then have both the company and the employee sign off on understanding of the policy.
For those with religious objections, prepare an alternative method for punching in and out, such as a browser-based punch that restricts access to certain IP addresses.
Using a biometric system to manage employee punches reduces payroll costs by eliminating buddy punching, reducing time spent on calculating and correcting time, and can be integrated with payroll software and human capital management systems to streamline the process, improving ROI.