technology | 9 mins read

Biometric Time Clocks - What They Are & How They Benefit Your Business

biometric time clocks what they are how they benefit your business
Michelle Jaco

By Michelle Jaco


It's essential that small and medium-sized business ownersespecially those with a large number of employees on hourly contractsare able to keep an accurate record of when members of staff start and finish work. Doing so can help these companies accurately pay wages and simplify payroll.

There are plenty of ways businesses can track time and attendance. One of the latest time-tracking solutions is to use a biometric time clock. These clocks use biometric data to provide all the regular benefits of a stamp or swipe-in system, with the added bonus of being easier to use and more difficult to trick the system.

In this article, we'll explore what biometric time clocks are how they help your business.

A Look at Legacy Time Tracking Options

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In order to truly understand the benefits of a biometric time clock system, we should first look at the other options businesses have to record hours worked by employees and explain why these solutions are sometimes problematic.

Managers and business owners have three main options for tracking the time each employee is scheduled to work. Schedules, stamp cards, and swipe cards.

The most basic tracking option businesses have is to simply use a schedule and assume employees stick to it.

This can be a good solution for small businesses where the manager is able to take a hands-on approach to checking attendance. If the manager is working every day and only has a couple of employees, it is more manageable to ensure everyone is abiding by the schedule and making adjustments if an individual is late or absent.

However, problems arise as the number of employees a business has increases. Having many employees working at different times or locations makes it almost impossible for managers to keep an eye on everyone and check that they were actually working when they said they were.

Knowing when employees arrived slightly late or clocked out earlier than they were supposed to is almost impossible in this situation.

Of course, managers can delegate time tracking work to supervisors. But, it can still be difficult to keep track of changes, especially when it comes to inputting last-minute adjustments into payroll.

Stamp and Swipe Cards
The other time tracking options are clocking in cards. This can be in the form of either time stamp cards that print the exact time the employee arrives and leaves work on a dedicated document or swipe cards that work like credit cards and store data electronically.

This is an improvement on the schedule solution, especially for businesses with a higher staff count.

By tracking when an employee punches in and out of work, it allows companies to pay the exact amount they owe. They also highlight if employees habitually leave work early, arrive late, or don't show up at all.

However, while an improvement upon using a written schedule, these solutions still have issues.

The biggest problem is they can easily be tricked by having one employee pass a card to another to punch in. This is a problem known as buddy punching. Tricking the system in this way can have significant business costs andas we explore later in the articleis a practice that is surprisingly widespread.

Buddy punching isn't the only problem with these cards. There are also issues if, for example, an employee forgot to check out when leaving work, or if the employee must work off site.

Additionally, if a company uses stamp cards rather than electronic cards, someone from HR (or the business owners) will have to input all the time worked into payroll. This is a time-consuming task.

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What is a Biometric Time Clock?

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A biometric time clock is a way of tracking hours worked that uses biometric data to confirm the employee punching in is who they say are. It is a more advanced, more secure time tracking solution.

Biometric time clocks have many of the benefits of the above time tracking software while addressing some of the concerns.

These machines commonly use fingerprint scanners to verify a person's identity as fingerprints are easy to use and considered secure. Also, most people are familiar with the technology as a form of it has been available on smartphones for years. However, in theory, any piece of biometric data could be used including face and iris scans.

The biometric scanner is usually located in the place of work, perhaps where the stamp or swipe card reader used to be. They are typically hooked up to a system that automatically stores all the data it collects.

How Biometric Time Clocks Work

While these systems are technologically much more advanced than stamp cards or swipe cards, the way they work for employees and business owners isn't that different.

First, the business needs a biometric terminal. It then needs to set up profiles for all employees and collect biometric data from each one (for the sake of keeping things simple, from now on we'll assume the biometric data used is a fingerprint). These fingerprint scans are then stored securely.

Once the business has a record of each employee, the employees have to scan their fingerprints whenever they arrive to work. This will clock them in, much like how a swipe card would have clocked them in in the past.

Once employees finish their shifts and are ready to leave, they must scan their fingerprint to check out. This will alert the system when an employee has finished a shift.

Managers can then access the data to see who has been at work and for how long. This provides useful insights into work trends, which we will explore below.

Benefits of Using a Biometric Time Clock

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Biometric systems have many benefits when compared to other methods of employee time tracking. Here is a look at some of them.

Less Chance of Unauthorized Clock Ins/Clock Outs
The key benefit of a biometric time clock is how secure it is. Biometric fingerprint scanners are almost impossible to fool. This means employees can only check-in when they are actually in the place of work.

This removes the problem of buddy punching when an employee gives a friend at the company his/her clock in punch card or swipe card and asks the friend to check in for them.

Save Money
By reducing buddy punching and other types of time theft, your company will no longer pay employees for work they didn't complete. This will save your company money.

While you may think time theft is only prevalent at large companies that isn't necessarily the case.

Studies have found that many employers experience payroll theft related to buddy punching, while 43% of hourly workers admitted to exaggerating the amount of time they worked during a shift.

Your company will also save money on having to produce time stamp cards or swipe cards for new hires, simplifying the onboarding process.

Cheap to Implement
All these money-saving benefits would not be much good if implanting a biometric time tracking system was prohibitively expensive. Luckily that's not the case.

Small businesses can get biometric solutions that start at just $29 per month per location. This price means it won't take huge savings in other areas before your company starts to see a positive return on its investment.

Less Administrative Work for Management
Automating the process of recording hours worked means less administrative work for those in charge. This can free up significant amounts of time from the schedule of managers who are, in all likeliness, already very busy.

Easy for Employees and Managers to Use
Biometric time clocks are easy to use. Employees are no longer burdened by having to carry cards with them. Instead, all that is required of them is to scan their fingerprint to clock in.

There will also be no more issues with people losing their cards or forgetting them at home.

There are great benefits for managers, too.

Time worked by employees is automatically stored in a database without any effort on their behalf. Managers will also spend less time editing or adding time worked due to employees that did not have their punch in cards with them.

Increased Employee Trust
One advantage of removing the problem of buddy punching is the increase in employee trust. You know without any doubt that an employee worked when they said they did. At the same time, employees know that every hour worked is one they will be paid for.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

Optimal Solution - Combine a Biometric Time Clock with Time Tracking

In order to get the full benefits of a biometric time clock, combine it with a time tracking app. This will provide your business with a complete employee time tracking solution.

Adding mobile app functionality to the time tracker has several benefits including

  • Simplify payroll - Using a solution that automatically tracks time makes payroll easier and more accurate. There is no need to manually enter the time employees worked, timesheets just need to be checked and finalized before being sent off to payroll. Managers can edit payroll on the go and check who is in work using the app.
  • Ensure compliance with labor laws - Time tracking apps provide information to both employees and managers to alert them when staff may be at risk of breaking labor laws. An example of this in use is a manager being notified that an employee has worked for too many hours in a row and sending them on a break.
  • Keep a record of all check ins/check outs - Apps that keep a record of all employee check ins and check outs allow managers to talk to employees who are consistently late or reward those that keep time well. They also let business owners see where edits have been made to check for suspicious patterns.
Ultimately, biometric time clocks and time tracking software make checking employee attendance easier and more accurate. Adding a mobile app into the mix makes it even more convenient for business owners and managers, as well.

If you are looking for a biometric time clock and software package, then look no further than Zip Clock. The product offers all the benefits listed above plus plenty more. Click here to get a full look at the features Zip Clock offers.

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