Employers are measuring the value of workers with ever-greater precision

Hannah Kuchler has a new piece in the FT on this topic, here is one bit:

Another pioneering outfit is Sociometric Solutions, which puts sensors in name badges to discover social dynamics at work. The badges monitor how employees move around the workplace, who they talk to and in what tone of voice.

One client, Bank of America, discovered that its more productive workers were those allowed to take their breaks together, in which they let off steam and shared tips about dealing with frustrated customers.

The bank took heed and switched to collective breaks, after which performance improved 23 per cent and the amount of stress in workers’ voices fell 19 per cent.

…David Lathrop, its director of research and strategy, says the sensors are now so cheap they can be put “practically everywhere”, arguing that employees could benefit by tracking their own performance.

As I have stressed in Average is Over, improved measurement of worker value is very likely to increase income inequality.  When contributions are relatively vague, the natural tendency is to have weak egalitarian norms and relatively egalitarian pay structures.  When relative contributions are more clear, pay structures will follow, in the longer run dragging norms along with them.


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