Amanda Nieweler

by Amanda Nieweler

Is a wearable tracking wristband ethical?

Is a wearable tracking wristband ethical?Those distant days of looking up from your personal work area to greet your co-worker, ask about their weekend, or rumble about last night's hockey game, are are just that, distant.

Don't let your eyes wander for just a moment, because by doing so your hand shifts slightly to the left where it isn't supposed to be.

Thus triggering ringing bells and vibrating technology, blinking and flashing lights... and everyone looking right at you!

Your employer knows that precious nano seconds were just wasted because you quickly brushed a bit of hair from your eye.

Okay, I'm probably being a little facetious. But honestly it's the first thing I thought about when I read that Amazon may consider putting wristbands onto employees wrists so their hand movements can be tracked. All in the name of filling orders faster and meeting company deadlines and goals.

There's a whole host of questions and concerns involving monitoring employees' movements, including feeling completely terrified you're going to mess something up.

Talk about stressful. And maybe a little creepy.

Amazon won patents for wristbands that they would want to use as part of an inventory system. The wristband would communicate with warehouse equipment and nudge employees via vibrations if they were about to place items in the wrong shipping bins.

But today, when Big Brother is watching our every move, and limits on gathering and using people’s data remain undefined, people could cry foul on this one.

Cue the discrimination reports, data security risks, and not to mention a situation companies don't want to get themselves into - knowingly or not, pressuring employees to feel they need to perform under stress. This can result in employees going to great lengths to ensure they meet goals, and with what we've seen in the past, this is where fraudulent activity can take place.

Still scratching my head on how an employee would commit fraud with a wristband, but for the sake of argument, it could happen.

Here's another example. A vending machine company in Wisconsin wanted to implant microchips in its employees hands to ease daily tasks like buying snacks or using the copy machine.

Let's get back to the 'buying snacks' part. That's none of your business when (or if) I want to indulge in Cheetos becasue I have the 2 PM munchies!

And if I did, I'd make sure nobody saw me because some things need to remain secret.

Back to Amazon.

A computer engineering professor at the University of Illinois had this to say: “Putting the wrong box in a particular place can have cascading effects.” “Being able to track these things and give an alert on your wrist saying that you put it in the wrong place, I think, is very important.”

Okay touché on that point. After all, what I order on Amazon I expect to be delivered in a timely manner.

All kidding aside, companies are destined to implement new technologies to help them be more efficient. And where new technologies could affect employees and the company culture, and have an impact on a company's vision and values, it's more important than ever that they ensure their policies and codes reflect this ever-changing environment.

Policies and codes need to be ever-changing to reflect a company's growing existence. Over time, a company will implement new technologies, have new employee expectations, have further reaching goals, and changing missions and values.

Policies and codes need to adapt to these changing environments so that employees and the company have a clear path towards any new expectations. 

Also, with new goals and expectations comes the increasing need for employees to be able to anonymously report on any unethical behavior.

Contact us and let's have a chat!


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