Limitations in the attendance keycard system (part 1)  

For most office-workers in Malaysia, employees carry keycards as an ID to access their workstation. In factories and mills, the punch card system remains widely used for recording attendance, as are logbooks for fieldworkers.

Although a simple, cheap, tried and tested method, these near-legacy systems have numerous limitations, amongst them: 

Heavy manual workload and space requirements 

At month-end, HR needs to collect the punch cards and manually input them into payroll systems. Or worse, into a spreadsheet, then cross-check for discrepancies. This isn’t only tedious and time-consuming. It is also prone to data entry errors.  

For SMEs, punch cards may still be manageable. But in large workplaces with hundreds or even thousands of workers, the amount of manual work at month end requires multiple staff to manually calculate payroll and check for discrepancies. This takes up HR time and resources that can be better put into other activities. 

Keeping and filing stockpiles of old punch cards is also tedious. They take up significant storage space, as do  stockpiles of replacement cards for each month. ID tags have largely eliminated this problem, but it is not foolproof and there is still room for improvement, as the next point illustrates. 

Security vulnerabilities 

A common problem in the workplace is the ‘buddy system’, where someone clocks in or out for a colleague even if he/she is late or absent. In large offices, estates and mills with hundreds of staff, widespread and continued misuse of the buddy system can be hard to track. 

It’s also costly in wages to underperforming workers and is a loophole for phantom workers to exploit. This severely undercuts honest workers who may be paid the same rate as unproductive ones and lowers overall productivity. Even ID cards do not negate this problem, as it’s not uncommon to lend ID cards to coworkers and visitors. In such cases, it may also present a security issue as the keycard may grant access to restricted areas. 

A solution? 

These are some of the known problems with punch card systems, but how can we address them?  

In the next part of this series, we explore the advantages provided by digital solutions, such as offered by LintraMax’sQuarto. These solutions integrate not only technology, but also best practices to go beyond addressing existing problems. Other benefits for HR managers include better streamlined  workflow and reporting, and preventing possible security issues, among others.

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