Time theft is expensive and often a hidden business cost for long-term care and senior living providers. Time theft, also referred to as “time fraud,” is when employees receive pay for hours not actually worked or tasks not actually completed. It can come in many forms, but those that are typically seen in senior care include clocking in a few minutes early and out a few minutes late – also known as “clock riding” or “shift creep.”
Buddy punching is another common form of time theft and occurs when an employee asks their coworker to punch in or out for them, often because they are late to work or are leaving earlier than scheduled.
These discrepancies may seem minor and insignificant to employees but can have a big impact on organizations.
Consider this scenario:
- A full-time employee earning $13/hour clocks in fifteen minutes early and out fifteen minutes late each shift, adding 30 minutes total to each shift.
- Multiply that by 5 shifts per week and that’s 150 minutes each week.
- Multiply that by 52 weeks in a year and that’s an added 7,800 minutes per year.
- In total, this employee earned an additional 130 hours of pay, which equals $1,690/year.
And that cost doesn’t consider whether or not those additional hours put that employee into overtime.
Depending on the size of your organization, a single instance of time theft may not raise too many alarms. But in general, if one employee is doing it, you likely have others who don’t see the harm in adding a little bit of extra time to their timecard each week. If left unchecked, this can add up big time for providers, adding excess labor costs that today’s senior care providers simply can’t afford.
Here are few measures you can put in place at your community to prevent clock riding and save money on labor costs.
Create a timekeeping policy. Having a timekeeping policy keeps everyone on the same page and will make employees think twice about how innocent an early punch or late clock in really is. Present this policy with employees during onboarding and ask them to sign an acknowledgement that they have reviewed and understand the policy.
Timekeeping policies should include rules around how early or late employees can clock in or out without manager approval, as well as any disciplinary actions that may be taken if time theft such as buddy punching or clock riding occurs. Be sure to display this policy in the employee break room or wherever employees punch and refer back to it if an instance of time theft is suspected.
Use biometrics technology. According to the American Payroll Association (APA), upwards of 75% of companies lose money from buddy punching each year. One of the quickest ways to reduce buddy punching is to implement a timekeeping system that utilizes biometrics, such as a fingerprint, handprint, iris scanner or facial recognition.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all biometrics are created equal. While fingerprints, handprints and the iris are all unique to the individual they belong to, they can often be faulty and restrict staff from clocking in.
Modern time & attendance software, such as OnShift Time, utilizes facial recognition, the only biometric that is visually auditable by the human eye. By allowing employees to punch using nothing but their face, staff are never restricted from punching in. Biometric scoring allows managers to inspect suspect punches later, which eliminates buddy punching.
Implement geofencing & 3D microlocations for mobile punches. Particularly with the emergence of COVID-19, many providers are making the move to contactless mobile punches for employees. In other words, they’re allowing staff to use their mobile devices to clock in, in lieu of a shared timeclock in the community.
In the past, providers have been hesitant to allow staff to punch in via their personal device, concerned that some employees may get into the habit of adding a few minutes to their shift by punching in and out from their car, instead of the community.
Geofencing creates a perimeter around your community from which employees are eligible to punch. This can help curb concerns around someone clocking in at home and then driving to work. For pinpoint accuracy, OnShift Time allows for the addition of 3D microlocations. These Bluetooth beacons can be placed throughout the community and staff must be within a few meters of the beacon to punch.
With these additional measurements in place, you can ensure mobile punches are not only accurate, but reduce the need for having yet another shared contact point within your community, providing an added layer of protection against infection.
Set up automated punch rules & monitor daily. One way to limit clock-riding is to set up automated punch rules that restrict staff from punching in early or out late. These restrictions often vary from organization to organization, but it’s not uncommon to see communities limit punches to seven minutes before or after a scheduled shift time.
Additionally, it’s important to monitor punches on a regularly basis—preferably as they happen. OnShift Time notifies managers and supervisors of suspected clock-riding as it happens, allowing for any potential issues to be addressed before they become a pattern.
Make punching easy. A cumbersome timekeeping process can make it appear that an employee is padding their timecard. It’s not uncommon to see employees clocking in early because they’re worried there could be an issue with the timeclock or a long line as they go to clock into the single timeclock at the community.
With a mobile time & attendance software like OnShift Time, communities can eliminate traditional timeclocks and instead allow staff to punch from either their personal device or a few centrally located tablets within the community. Flexible punching options can help ease employee concerns about missing a punch due to a faulty timeclock. It can also help communities save money by eliminating excess hardware costs and hefty ongoing maintenance fees.
This mobility, combined with facial recognition biometrics, makes punching in as simple as taking a selfie—taking only a matter of seconds. In the event an employee’s face isn’t recognizable, staff are never stopped from punching in or out. OnShift Time simply takes their photo and alerts a manager to verify the punch.
It’s important to remember, that in most cases, the occasionally early or late punch is nothing to be concerned about. However, by regularly monitoring punches, implementing clear timekeeping guidelines and providing an easy-to-use, contactless time & attendance experience, providers can quickly identify potential time theft, address it early and correct the behavior—saving your organization from excess labor costs in the long run.