Workplace Biometrics: Putting Security First

The use of biometrics in the workplace divides opinion – but is it a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision?

Chris Wrench

Senior Product Manager

Time is money…

Time is a precious commodity, and the persistent issue of time theft, encompassing time clock fraud, payroll fraud, and ‘buddy punching,’ continues to plague many workplaces. Global businesses are estimated to lose approximately four and a half hours per employee each week to this practice, translating to 10-15% of total working hours in many industries, a productivity drain most organizations can ill afford. Some sources peg the impact at 2.2% of total payroll costs. The elusive nature of time theft makes accurate monitoring a challenge.

Solving the problem

Addressing this challenge, biometrics has evolved into a highly reliable and seemingly straightforward solution for combating buddy punching. Utilizing unique, personal identifying characteristics such as irises, faces, and voices proves largely foolproof compared to historically unreliable methods like signatures. Biometric measures have revolutionized industries, becoming commonplace in accessing devices and even leaving the country.

Pros & cons of using biometrics in your workplace

  • Incontrovertible Evidence: Biometrics offer indisputable evidence of employees’ arrival, clock-in, log-on, log-off, and departure, effectively eliminating time clock fraud.
  • Security and Compliance: Biometrics enhance security, ensuring compliance and mitigating the risk of litigation.
  • Safety and Accuracy: Effective deployment of biometrics allows organizations to know who is on-site and potentially where they are, supporting workplace safety.
  • Hygiene Advantages: Facial recognition eliminates the need for physical contact with equipment, a valuable feature amid heightened hygiene awareness.
  • Incentivizing Accuracy: Acts as an incentive for employees to log working hours accurately and a deterrent to time theft.

There are, however, some potential disadvantages: 

  • Cost: Upgrading systems for biometric-enabled devices may entail a significant cost, but cost-effective options are available.
  • Trust Concerns: Employees may feel monitored, impacting trust. Communication about the benefits of accurate time measurement is crucial to address this concern.
  • Privacy Apprehensions: Some may be wary of facial recognition or biometrics in general. Education on data usage limits and compliance with privacy laws can ease these concerns.

Ben Lagden, Vice President of Product at GT Clocks, recently spoke about advances in biometrics technology and their benefits. He addressed the role GT Clocks take in privacy concerns:

“We take care of consent for the biometrics being taken. We make sure that they are consenting to their use for the purpose that they’re being used for… and that retention period is strictly adhered to.”

Listen to the full podcast here. 

Protecting Privacy and Ensuring Compliance:

  • Trust and Transparency: Establishing trust through communication about the benefits of accurate time measurement is essential.
  • GDPR and Privacy Laws: Rigorous compliance with GDPR and other relevant legislation addresses concerns about data collection.
  • Appropriate Use: The application of biometrics should be suitable for the situation, place, and usage, ensuring responsible data use within legislative parameters.

Benefits Outweigh Downsides:

While concerns exist, the benefits of enhanced security and accuracy outweigh the downsides. Increased levels of security are expected, and companies must navigate the balance between heightened security and privacy concerns. Stringent privacy laws, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), protect individuals, and companies are taking measures to ensure compliance.

Call the Experts…

With over 30 years of experience, GT Clocks has been a leader in producing time clocks, including those with biometric capabilities and security system integration. Our team of experts is ready to assist in identifying the right biometric solution for your business. Find out more today.