Ever get the feeling that the lines between art and reality are becoming increasingly blurred?
If you’re a fan of the acclaimed Netflix series “Black Mirror”, you will know about the episode from the fourth series entitled “Arkangel” (a trailer can be viewed here) – in short, on a trip to a playground, a mother loses her child, but then is found safely a little later.
Afraid of losing her child again in the future, the mother finds a company that can implant her with a microchip allowing her to track the child’s whereabouts. For fear of spoilers, I won’t mention any more, but it was this episode that sprung to mind when I read this story, about a company looking to implant chips into its employees.
The company claims it’s to manage the access that employees have to sensitive documents handled by the business, but with recent stories of data becoming lost, stolen, passed-on unknowingly or mis-used, can employees truly believe that is the only reason for the measure?
Indeed, can employees trust that any other information will not be used against them in a certain way? For instance, during appraisals, promotions or structural changes?
Any such initiative would need absolute clarity but would also probably involve a list of terms and conditions many, many pages long! Would you have the time to read these and understand them?
And the initial idea is that only those volunteering will be chipped, but this throws up a number of questions - would the business end up trusting volunteers more than non-chipped employees? Does it bring up what those not volunteering have to hide? Could problems arise around movement around the building, toilet breaks, penalties for apparent non-productive hours? The list is endless!
The possible issues facing workplaces and their staff are many too, even before microchips enter the picture. From the hundreds of studies we have partnered clients on over the years, we see that regardless of problems that may exist around communication, senior management, line management. team working, aims and values, learning and development, working environment and so on, staff are generally self-motivated enough (for many different reasons) to want to do their best for the company.
But if that motivation falls because of trust eroding, then the issues multiply for the organisation – for instance, churn levels of staff increase leading to an increase in costs for replacing them. Productivity and / or service levels could suffer, leading to customer issues. Company decisions end up being made in a binary manner, rather than looking at the nuances that exist in many situations, that a human is able see and process.
Going further, dismissal (rightly or wrongly) as a result of the chip’s information could result in it becoming harder for that employee to find work elsewhere - will any other prospective companies believe the person, or the data, especially if other companies also undertake chipping?
So any company thinking about undertaking such a process, has to consider the reasons why they need to do this, in addition to the pros and cons attached.
It will be interesting to see whether more companies decide to undertake this process…