Aug 10

Hiding From Big Brother

I recently read an article in Baseline talking about how workers in the UK are up in arms about being tracked by RFID tags in whorehouseswarehouses:

"The fear? The stated fear is they'll be tracked every time they take a break or head for the rest room. The unstated fear: Every movement becomes trackable. Employers, using the information gathered by ever-present radio waves, could see which warehouse worker really is most efficient and prioritize hiring, firing and overtime accordingly."

The article goes on to suggest that sharing the wealth by tying pay to productivity (i.e. rewarding the most productive workers while paying the least productive workers less) would make everybody happy.

While in a perfect world, this might be true, I find that most entrenched union workers are unlikely to embrace such a system of rewards. Indeed, most folks are smart enough to realize that while they might be outputting average productivity right now, a number of workers will begin to work harder, thus raising the bar merely for average pay.

Some will say that such systems are abused. They will say that employers will watch their employees and fire them for no reason (by the way it is both legal and legitimate to fire someone for no reason at all a.k.a. "at-will employment"). Frankly, if the employer wants to fire someone, they don't need such tracking systems as an excuse in an at-will system.

I've actually seen situations like this before, where managers roam the floor, literally stuffing $20 into the pockets of workers as they believe they are doing a good job. Those that seem to be doing average or less than average work get passed by. The employer loves it, and so do those that do good work. Everyone else seems to think the practice is entirely unfair. Surely everyone is entitled to equal pay, even if the work completed isn't equal, right?

I've been in situations where I've been monitored. Does it make me a little uneasy? Sure. But only when I'm doing something that I really shouldn't be doing. I think that's fair enough. Otherwise, I'd have to follow this train of thought: Someone is paying me to do something, and I'm doing something else. Now I'm going to get upset that they can find out about it. Nevermind that I'm literally stealing by not doing the job I'm being paid to do up to my ability. That's a cost of doing business and I shouldn't be held accountable. I'm entitled to that paycheck, even if I didn't earn it. By extension, if I want to pocket some merchandise off the shelf without paying for it, that's okay too, after all, I'm entitled.

Sadly, until we get past the sense of entitlement, I think it will be difficult at the line level to reward those folks who legitimately work hard and do a good job.

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