Using Badge Cards for Timekeeping: Pros and Cons
Written by Complete Payroll
Anytime you make a change to your timekeeping system, you’ll need to plan thoroughly and carefully. Can you afford it? Does it fit your business model? What are additional structural revisions that you’ll need to make in order to accommodate the change?
Badge cards can be an excellent tool for timekeeping purposes, but like any method, they’re not perfect. Here are some of the pros and cons to be aware of before making a switch.
The pros of badge card timekeeping systems:
Badge cards can speed up the process of clocking in and out. If you have a lot of employees who begin or end their shifts at the same time, waiting for each one to punch in an ID number or username can cause major bottlenecks to form. This is especially true if you have workers who are less familiar with computers and keypads, or if your employees need to remove gloves in order to make accurate punches. Swiping a card takes a fraction of the time, streamlining this process.
If you already use badges as ID or access cards, adding one more function is easy. This means you’re going to get relatively little pushback from employees who are already used to wearing or carrying a badge around.
Badges can reduce buddy punches somewhat. Yes, it’s possible to give your badge to a friend and then have him or her clock you out later, but then you’ve also got to count on them arriving early enough to give it back to you the next day. It can definitely prevent people who are running late from calling their coworkers and asking to be clocked in on time.
The cons of badge card timekeeping systems:
Badges are easily forgotten, misplaced, and broken. What’s more, you may have employees who dislike the new system and “lose” their badge in order to show how terrible the new system is. Spare Badge cards can be easily swapped out for an employee who loses one, but if you run out of spares, you may find yourself having to clock an employee in and out manually for days until a new one is made or the employee discovers that they left it in their other coat pocket
Badges using bar codes can be photocopied. A simple black-and-white copy of the bar code can trick a scanner into believing the original badge is present, providing opportunities for buddy punching. Badges that are swiped using magnetic stripes are safer in this regard, as they can’t be replicated as easily. For this specific reason, Complete Payroll does not sell bar code clocks.
Magnetic cards weaken over time, requiring periodic replacement. They can also become demagnetized suddenly. (As anyone who has ever found themselves mysteriously locked out of a hotel room for no reason knows well.)
Badge cards will not automatically record when an employee is doing different kinds of work. In these situations, your employees will need to log those details in addition to their basic times clocking in and out, which cancels out the simplicity which is one of the major perks of using badges over ID numbers or passwords.
A fingerprint scanner is a modern time and attendance method that can mitigate many of the downsides of badge card timekeeping systems while still maintaining most of the upsides. A fingerprint is not something that can be misplaced, and the magnetism cannot weaken over time. To learn more about our bio-metric timekeeping solutions click here.
Whether you choose a badge card system or another method of timekeeping, it needs to be compliant.
Your timekeeping system needs to be accurate, easy to use, difficult to manipulate, and suit your needs. To help you think more carefully about how you track time, we’ve created a Timekeeping Compliance Checklist that you can download for free.
If you find your current system is working well already, you’re in luck! But it will also help you make decisions about any timekeeping changes you may decide to make in the future.
If you're a small business owner or HR Manager trying to wrap your head around the complex world of time and attendance, check out our comprehensive resource page, Time and Attendance - A Complete Guide. This page spells out literally everything you'd need to know about time and attendance, including timekeeping procedures, time clocks, employee scheduling, compliance considerations, emerging trends and a whole bunch more.