Suppose you operate a warehouse where workers work 11-hour shifts. In order to meet your productivity KPIs, a significant number of them need to take painkillers multiple times per shift. Do you…
- Decrease or change the KPI (goals)
- Make shifts shorter
- Increase the number or duration of breaks
- Increase the medical staff
- Install vending machines to dispense painkillers more efficiently
Nobody in their right mind would take option 5… Right?
Emily went undercover as employee at several organizations to experience blue collar jobs first-hand. In her book, she discusses how tech and data have changed low-wage jobs in ways that are simply dehumanizing.
These days, with sensors, timers, and smart nudging, employees are constantly being monitored and continue working (hard), sometimes at the cost of their own health and well-being.
I really enjoyed the book, despite the harsh picture it sketches of low wage jobs and malicious working conditions these days. The book poses several dilemma’s and asks multiple reflective questions that made me re-evaluate and re-appreciate my own job. Truly an interesting read!
Some quotes from the book to get you excited:
“As more and more skill is stripped out of a job, the cost of turnover falls; eventually, training an ever-churning influx of new unskilled workers becomes less expensive than incentivizing people to stay by improving the experience of work or paying more.”Emily Guendelsberger, On the Clock
“Q: Your customer-service representatives handle roughly sixty calls in an eighty-hour shift, with a half-hour lunch and two fifteen-minute breaks. By the end of the day, a problematic number of them are so exhausted by these interactions that their ability to focus, read basic conversational cues, and maintain a peppy demeanor is negatively affected. Do you:
A. Increase staffing so you can scale back the number of calls each rep takes per shift — clearly, workers are at their cognitive limits
B. Allow workers to take a few minutes to decompress after difficult calls
C. Increase the number or duration of breaks
D. Decrease the number of objectives workers have for each call so they aren’t as mentally and emotionally taxing
E. Install a program that badgers workers with corrective pop-ups telling them that they sound tired.
Seriously—what kind of fucking sociopath goes with E?”Emily Guendelsberger, On the Clock
Cover via Freepik