Regarding power in the workplace again, American employers have been improving their employees for the better over the past few decades.
Companies that have get bigger, giving them higher pricing and salary capabilities. Trade unions have shrinking, making workers less likely to negotiate a raise. And the judgment of the court, especially from the Supreme Courttend to side with companies rather than workers or regulators.
You can see these trends in macroeconomic data. The share of the economy’s output in corporate profits has nearly doubled since the mid-1970s, while the share of workers’ compensation has fallen. Or consider this chart:
As you can see, stock prices and family income tracked each other pretty closely in the decades after World War II – but not anymore.
The Times just ran a story looking at the latest manifestation of companies taking an up-and-coming attitude towards workers. The story of Jodi Kantor and Arya Sundaram is called “Increase in Employee Productivity Score,” and that’s the result of a month-long investigation. It describes technology-based employee monitoring often of Big Brother quality, tracking worker keystrokes, and more.
Jodi and Arya wrote:
In lower-paying jobs, surveillance is common: not only at Amazon, where second-by-second measurements have become famous, but also for Kroger cashiers, UPS drivers and millions of others. .
Now, digital productivity monitoring is also spreading among white-collar jobs and roles that require a graduate degree. Many employees, whether working remotely or in person, are subject to trackers, scores, “idle” or just quiet buttons, constantly accumulating records.
Employees at UnitedHealth Group may lose pay raises or bonuses if they have low keyboard activity. Some radiologists have transcripts on their computer screens to compare their “inactive” time with their colleagues. In New York, the transit system has told some employees that they can work remotely one day a week if they agree to full-time supervision.
This trend started before the pandemic, and the rise of white-collar work from home over the past two years has accelerated it. “If we give up getting people back into the office, we won’t give up managing productivity,” says Paul Wartenberg, who installs surveillance systems for companies.
But even many direct jobs now include productivity boards. Part of Jodi and Arya’s story describes the frustration of hospice chaplains, who receive a “productivity score” in part based on the number of terminally ill patients they see in a day.
“This sounds awful,” said one chaplain, “but I still do what I think is ‘mental care’ from time to time” to earn points. talk to the nurse and say, ‘Any concerns?’ It counts as a visit because I had my eye on it.”
Trying to get the most out of employees is nothing new. And some form of accountability is crucial to an organization’s success. But tracking employee behavior minute-by-minute, minute-by-minute, often using rudimentary metrics, is a more drastic form of accountability than it used to be.
“This is an intimate form of control, which is part of the reason why it takes months of reporting,” Jodi told me. “Just to be clear, some of the workers are really derelict. But for many others, this is about what happens when you need to take 10 minutes to clear your head, or deal with a child’s interruption, or spend a few extra minutes in the bathroom. “
In some cases, surveillance systems can backfire, and the narrative of how they are may not be accurate. Often, however, they can also contain precise information about an employee’s performance from one minute to the next. And in doing so, they tip the balance of power in the workplace in favor of workers and employers.
For more: If you read the full story, you will understand how it feels to be watchedthanks to a design by my colleagues Aliza Aufrichtig and Rumsey Taylor.
Image of the playoff match that has been set up: The WNBA knockouts are here to save us from the deep summer’s sporting lull. Tournaments the end of its regular season yesterday when the Las Vegas Aces announced as the No. 1 seed for the following season, sending the defending champion Chicago Sky relegated to 2nd place.
A classic Premier League rivalry is renewed: Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham yesterday was both head coaches got red cards after the final whistle when the tension of the whole match flared up. The season is only two weeks old, but we may have seen one of its defining moments.
Is Deshaun Watson Hurting Cleveland Browns Profits? Depends on where you look.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Bye bye rock’s favorite weirdos
When the B-52 performed their first show in 1977, the self-proclaimed “monsters” from Ga. Athens, could not have imagined that one day they would become rock stars. “It’s a hobby,” says singer Fred Schneider. “We were stuck once or twice. We don’t even have money to buy guitar strings.”
But they have an undeniable allure – sharp guitars, screaming choruses, shaggy wigs – that have taken them from underground misfits to Top 10 hits, most memorably the song of the year. 1989 “Love Shack”. Now, after more than four decades, they have announced that the upcoming tour will be their last. They spoke to The Times about their career.
For more: Bands influenced and influenced by the first album of B-52.