I was hanging out with some friends of ours the other night and we were talking about work. Tom (names changed to protect the innocent and guilty) works for "Big TelCo". He works in the collections department and he was telling us how they've installed a new system that requires employees to punch in a code on their phone when they are going to be away from their desk (333 is the code for a bathroom break, for example).
He said that this telephone code entry thing is only the tip of the iceberg. Up next is a program that will be installed on their computer that monitors the number of keystrokes they make. It will be integrated with the phone so that if you punch in your code that says you're away from your desk, it will stop monitoring keystrokes... seems humane.
I had to make the joke, of course, that, at some point, they'll install some device that will send an electrical shock to the person if they have not had any keystrokes in a span of 30 seconds. The greater the time between keystrokes, the greater the electrical shock.
The next question, of course, was to ask if the company was hiring - cause that seems like a fun place to work [/SARCASM].
I'm all for measuring performance and output, but this is way over the top.
The company has made a mistake here. They've grown to a point where they can no longer effectively manage their employees so they're employing a technical babysitter.
I know that there are bad employees out there. I know that there are people who don't want to be at work and therefore don't produce an acceptable amount of output. I know that some people need to be monitored (I don't always look at the world through rose colored glasses).
But come on. This is too much.
Think about what this says to the employees: I don't trust you.
I'm reminded of that song by Mark James (sung by Elvis, Fine Young Cannibals, etc).
We can't go on together With suspicious minds And we can't build our dreams On suspicious minds
Anyway, I've suggested that Work is Personal and if you accept that very basic premise, then think about the value & importance of TRUST in a relationship. And that is exactly what we're talking about here - a RELATIONSHIP between Employer and Employee.
When companies start looking at ways to micro-manage the activities of their employees my guess is that there is a bigger problem here that is not being addressed: Put simply..
1.) you don't care about them as people...
2.) you've not given them a reason to care about the company or the consumer
3.) therefore, "work" is WORK.
Oh, they'll continue to punch the clock and collect a paycheck... a.k.a; "Doing Time in Corporate America", but they'll be complaining about you, your policies, and "the way things are done around here" the whole time. The longer this continues, the less value they are to you and more importantly to your customers.
You don't even have to imagine what these people are like to deal with from a customers perspective - try calling a 1-800 number, you choose which one, it doesn't really matter. And while you're talking to one of these people hooked up to these monitoring systems, ask yourself - "does this person really care about me and the problem that necessitated this call?"
So, how does your company manage people like this? I'm really interested to know!!!