Facial recognition time clocks: the business of biometrics
Time and attendance tracking can be a murky business for an employer. Time theft can be a silent profit killer. Old-fashioned ‘punch’ clocks and swipe cards are susceptible to buddy punching, and self-logged hours are easy for employees to round up. More and more, businesses are turning to the use of biometrics in the workplace to authenticate attendance which pay huge dividends in reducing time theft and increasing the efficiency of payroll processing.
*Before you keep reading: Please note that, at this stage, Roubler does not offer products or services that include fingerprint or facial recognition technology. Our time and attendance software uses photo capture (essentially a ‘selfie’) to record and time-stamp clock-ins and clock-outs for employees.
The lowdown on facial recognition in business
Biometrics involve the capture of unique biological identifiers to authenticate an individual and are incredibly difficult to forge. This can include fingerprints, retina scans, voice, and facial recognition, among many others. Biometrics have been used by governments, industry bodies, the security industry, and increasingly, private business in a range of applications.
While fingerprint scanners have been common for logging attendance for a number of years, facial recognition is becoming more popular as the technology improves. Facial recognition systems prevent ‘buddy punching’, where employees clock in or out for colleagues, using unique personal identifiers. In the case of facial recognition, this includes features such as the nose, eyes, corners of the mouth, and upper outlines of the eye sockets. When an employee stands in front of the system, it scans their face and compares the scanned features to a database to identify them.
The benefits of biometrics
Implementing facial recognition in your company can be useful in a number of ways:
- Reduced instances of time theft through proxy attendance or fudging time sheets. Because of the three-dimensional nature of the scan taken, even photos of the person cannot trick the system.
- Biometric scanners involving contact or close proximity, such as fingerprint and iris scanners, can quickly spread germs among the team. Good facial recognition systems include infrared lights which significantly improve effectiveness in low-light environments and allow staff to stand up to a metre away from the camera.
- Some systems can be self-installed, allowing easy implementation for accurate time and attendance logging for even small business.
- This time and attendance data can be easily paired with other software to streamline business intelligence and analytics, end to end payroll software and scheduling systems.
Achieving these efficiencies can have big impacts on the business bottom line. It allows managers to more effectively deploy human resources when and where the business needs it. Administration personnel can better verify clocked hours and process payroll transactions, and onboarding is as simple as capturing a face sample.
Considerations for implementing facial recognition
While there are a multitude of benefits, there are also some considerations the business should make before implementing biometric solutions.
In businesses with a union presence, it is important to give the union sufficient notice of the introduction of these systems. This means they can be catered for under enterprise agreements and prevent issues with staff who do not want to use the system.
There should also be very strict security policies to safeguard any personal data collected form employees. In 2010, Deputy Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim said of biometrics, “I would like to be clear about something; technology is not the enemy of privacy”. He did note however, that privacy needs to be embedded in the design and operation of systems which collect this type of personal data. As with any emergent technologies, business owners should stay abreast of any changes to Australian privacy laws.
From the point of onboarding new employees, the business should make clear the nature of the collection and use of this data to all employees. Existing employees should be notified in writing. Managers should be ready to meet resistance from some employees and have a way to manage this prior to implementation.
As with many new technologies, benefits can outweigh the downsides. As more companies adopt facial recognition time clocks and attendance software, industry can begin to discover more and more opportunities for efficiency.