They don't call it wage slavery for nothing

They don't call it wage slavery for nothing

by digby

So it turns out that when bosses can spy on their employees the employees steal less and are more "diligent" about their work. And that leads to greater productivity, which in these days of high unemployment makes for an extremely good return for the most productive members of society: the owners.
Scrutiny works in mysterious ways. The knowledge that your industry (or state, or macroeconomy) is under siege makes workers feel watched. But what about workers who are, quite literally, being watched?

That was the subject of another recent paper on software that watches workers to make sure they don't steal stuff: Cleaning House: The Impact of Information Technology Monitoring on Employee Theft and Productivity. The New York Times unpacks:
The researchers measured the impact of software that monitors employee-level theft and sales transactions, before and after the technology was installed, at 392 restaurants in 39 states ... The savings from the theft alerts themselves were modest, $108 a week per restaurant. However, after installing the monitoring software, the revenue per restaurant increased by an average of $2,982 a week, or about 7 percent.

What happened here? Yes, theft declined. That's to be expected. But also, revenue spiked. Productivity increased. Turning casual-dining restaurants into casual-dining panopticons made everybody work harder, perhaps by cutting down on procrastination or encouraging waiters to sell more drinks and appetizers to customers.
And the good news for the owners is that they also get to pocket every cent of added profit because they don't have to "trickle down" any of it to the workers as long as unemployment remains high. It's win-win. The drones just have to adapt to the bosses being able to crack the metaphorical whip whenever they see them slacking --- which is all the time. They don't call it wage slavery for nothing.

By the way, the article does point out that there is research showing that employees are more creative and innovative in freerer environments. But those profits don't show up on the bottom line in the near term, so I'm going to guess the corporate version of Total Information Awareness will be the preferred take-away.

Happy labor day everyone.