How Do Biometric Time Clocks Reduce Payroll Costs? [4 Simple Ways To Cut Overhead Without Layoffs]

SwipeClock biometric employee time clocks

Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

Employee Timekeeping and Scheduling

7 Minute Read

Do you have hourly employees? Looking for ways to reduce labor costs without layoffs? Consider getting a biometric time clock.

4 Ways Biometric Time Clocks Reduce Payroll Costs

  1. Eliminate time theft by buddy punching
  2. Eliminate time theft by hours padding
  3. Eliminate out-of-schedule punches
  4. Prevent payroll mistakes

Before we get into the details, let’s go over the basics.

What are ‘Biometrics?’

Biometrics is the collecting and analysis of an individual’s physical or behavioral attributes. The attribute measured must be unique to that person. When used with biometrics, the attribute or characteristic is called an ‘identifier.’ Identifiers include fingerprints, facial scans, iris scans, hand vein geometry, or DNA. Behavioral identifiers include typing patterns, iris patterns, or gait (the way you walk). Some attributes—such as voice—are both physical and behavioral.

How Does a Biometric System Work?

Any biometric system requires a device, software, and database. The device collects the identifier. The software converts the collected information into a digital format. (Most systems encrypt the information for security and legal compliance.) The database stores the information.

What are Biometrics Used For?

Biometrics are used for security and/or transaction authentication. A biometric system is an effective way to verify a person’s identity. Consequently, they are used in airports, forensic investigations, secure buildings and workforce management. For our purposes today, we will discuss how you use them in workforce management.

What is a Biometric Time Clock?

Biometric employee time clocks identify employees and track their work hours. Employees punch in and out on the biometric clock. Biometric time clocks can be placed at the entrance to the workplace. Or at the entrance to specific departments within the facility. Some employee timekeeping apps have biometric capability. Because of this, it allows employees to clock in from a mobile device. In addition, biometric clocks can sync with employee time and attendance software.

What are The Different Types of Biometric Time Clocks?

Biometric clocks are distinguished by the type of attribute they use. Common identifiers include fingerprints, iris scans, facial recognition, and hand geometry. Some biometric time clocks are designed for specific workspaces. For example, portable dirt- and water-resistant clocks for construction sites.

How Does a Biometric Time Clock Help My Business?

Biometric clocks provide many benefits. First off, they reduce labor costs by preventing employee time theft. Secondly, they reduce payroll errors. Thirdly,  they enhance security. Lastly, they simplify compliance.

How do Biometric Clocks Prevent Employee Time Theft?

Employees steal time in a couple of different ways. Firstly, with paper timecards, it’s easy for an employee to add a few minutes before or after every shift. (‘My manager doesn’t know the exact time I arrived.’) These minutes add up. Consequently, even a small employer can lose up to four hours a week per employee.

Secondly, and perhaps more damaging, employees also commit time theft with ‘buddy clocking’ or ‘buddy punching.’ This is when an employee clocks in for an employee who isn’t at work. In some cases, the employee eventually shows up. Yet there are multiple cases of employees being paid for entire unworked shifts. The ‘buddy clock’ scheme prevents the absent employee from receiving a tardy or an absence. Consequently, it also ensures that their paycheck isn’t reduced.

U.S. employers lose over $370 million a year to buddy clocking fraud. Both timecard padding and buddy punching increase payroll costs. Flagrant abusers can cost their employers thousands of dollars every year.

A biometric time clock can cut your payroll costs by 10% (or more) by preventing time theft.

How do Biometric Clocks Improve Payroll Accuracy?

Now that we’ve talked about payroll problems caused intentionally, let’s talk about unintentional errors. People also make payroll mistakes unintentionally. These include math errors on paper timecards, data entry mistakes, and lapses in memory.

To illustrate, let’s consider how many people touch each timecard with a traditional system. Up to three: 1) the employee, 2) the manager, and 3) an HR or payroll staff member. Clearly, each manual step is vulnerable to human error.

Furthermore, when a timecard error isn’t caught and corrected, it triggers an inaccurate paycheck. When the employee tells the manager or HR team about the error, they have to issue another check. In addition, they may need to fix inaccurate PTO calculations. That isn’t all, the error could affect overtime benefits.

Consider also, that if a tipped employee doesn’t get paid accurately, it may put you in sketchy minimum wage territory. Certainly, in all cases, it’s a hassle for the employee, manager, and admin team.

How do Biometric Time Clocks Improve Efficiency?

Imagine a large warehouse with hundreds of employees. With an old-school punch clock, each worker has to find their card and put it into the machine. Then they return their card to the rack. This may only take a few seconds, however, multiply that by 50 employees and dozens of weekly shifts. Consequently, it results in lost productivity every month. It’s also frustrating for employees who have to wait in a line every time they clock in or out.

In contrast, many biometric time clocks don’t require the employee to touch the clock. For example, with a facial scanning clock, the employee stands in front of the clock for a half-second scan. Certainly, it speeds up the line at the time clock. In addition, hands-free clocks simplify punch-in if you’re wearing gloves. Or carrying equipment in factories or industrial environments. And they help maintain sterility in laboratories, hospitals, and ‘clean-room’ manufacturing spaces.

How do Biometric Time Clocks Improve Security?

In addition to the benefits discuss thus far, biometric clocks can improve security. Business owners that need secure access can use a biometric clock. They can put one at each entry point in the building. Or they can place them at the entrances to areas within. For example, those with sensitive documents or equipment. Indeed, a biometric clock only allows access by authorized employees.

How Does a Biometric Time Clock Sync With Timekeeping Software?

Now that we’ve discussed the hardware, let’s turn our attention to time and attendance software. Timekeeping software syncs with time clocks–both biometric and non-biometric clocks.

These include proximity card clocks, PIN clocks, or web portals. Certainly, when you sync timekeeping software with a biometric clock, you gain more control. You also automate many time-consuming workforce processes.

This is how it works:

  1. The employee clocks in with the biometric clock.
  2. The clock identifies the employee and records the punch time.
  3. The timekeeping software adds the hours worked to the employee’s (virtual) timecard.
  4. At the end of the payroll period, the software imports the hours data into the payroll system.

Of course, tallying hours is essential, but the systems do much more. In fact, they give you timekeeping superpowers. Let’s look at some of them:

  • Breaks/meals tracking
  • PTO accrual tracking
  • Missed punch notifications
  • Overtime alerts
  • Intelligent prompts
  • Customizable compliance settings

How Does a Biometric Time Clock Synced to Timekeeping Software Reduce Missed Punches?

‘Intelligent prompts’ means the clock interface will present only logical options to each employee. For example, suppose an employee is already clocked out for a break. When he returns from the break, the clock prompt will only present the END BREAK punch option.

How Does a Biometric Time Clock Synced to Timekeeping Software Enforce Schedules?

If you configure ‘schedule enforcement,’ if an employee attempts to clock in before the scheduled shift start time, the clock will deny access. Then, a prompt will notify her of her authorized start time. Therefore, she can’t clock in until that time.

How Does a Biometric Time Clock Synced to Timekeeping Software Prevent Buddy Punching?

Certainly, buddy punching can wreak havoc on your labor budget. Because biometric clocks require a biological identifier, there is no way to cheat the system. (I can imagine a few, but they would only occur in a horror movie.)

Are Biometric Time Clocks Regulated?

Yes. Some states limit what types of biometric data you can collect. They also dictate how you can store and use the information. In addition, there are federal privacy laws that come into play. Therefore, if you are considering a biometric time clock, find out what your legal obligations are. Most employers can find a clock that is compliant with both state and federal privacy laws. Indeed, consult with an attorney to create compliant policies. Appropriate policies will protect you in case of a Department of Labor audit.

Announcing Swipeclock Vision Facial Recognition Employee Time Clock

Swipeclock recently introduced Vision, an advanced employee time clock that seamlessly combines the best features of biometric security with the minimal-contact operational speed and ease of facial recognition. Vision helps small businesses optimize labor management while keeping employees safe and secure during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Let Swipeclock Help You Reduce Labor Costs

Swipeclock biometric time clocks integrate with our industry-leading timekeeping software. Contact Swipeclock to speak with a biometric time clock specialist.

Simplify HR management today.

Simplify HR management today.

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