A non-negotiable feature of Disneyland's 2008 contract with Unite Local 11 -- which represents the laundry workers who clean linens from the resort's hotels and restaurants -- was a new "work-tracking" system that used "gamification" to display realtime signals about each worker's productivity on public leaderboards, colorcoded with the slowest workers' names in red, as well as color-coding indicators on individual machines to indicate whether they were underperforming.
The workers called this system "the electronic whip" and they say that it had the intended effect of speeding up their work -- at the expense of bitter fighting between workers (in a workplace that had a decades-long reputation for being a good and pleasant place to work) and a sharp increase in on-the-job injuries.
Disneyland has been the site of intense union organizing, a pushback that was triggered by a decades-long ratcheting-down of real wages and working conditions.
While this whip was cracking, the workers sped up. ‘We saw a higher incidence of injuries,’ Topete said. ‘Several people were injured on the job.’ The formerly collegial environment degenerated into a race. The laundry workers competed with each other, and got upset when coworkers couldn’t keep up. People started skipping bathroom breaks. Pregnant workers fell behind. ‘The scoreboard incentivises competition,’ said Topete. ‘Our human competitiveness, whatever makes us like games, whatever keeps us wanting to win, it’s a similar thing that was happening. Even if you didn’t want to.’
The dark side of gamifying work [Vincent Gabrielle/Aeon]
(Image: Cryteria, CC-BY)
Bernie Sanders's latest legislative proposal is the Stop Walmart Act; Sanders describes Walmart as the "poster child for corporate greed" and uses that as a launching point to propose a ban on stock buybacks from companies unless they pay their lowest-waged employees $15/hour.
The Nairobi neighborhood of Kibera is Africa's largest slum, and it's home to an unlikely, Silicon-Valley-style tech park operated by Samasource (motto: "Artificial intelligence meets human dignity"), who serves clients from Google to Microsoft to Salesforce, using clickworkers who get paid $9/day, compared to the going wage of $2/day in the region's "informal economy" (the […]
Earlier this year, a group of business school researchers from the University of Washington and NYU, as well as Amazon, published an influential paper claiming that the rising Seattle minimum wage had decreased take-home pay for workers by 6% due to cuts to work hours -- the paper was trumpeted by right-wing ideologues as examples […]
In photography as in film, all the real artistry is in post-production – increasingly so, with the new possibilities cropping up in digital imaging. If you’re ready to get serious about your photography, may we suggest HDR Projects 2018 Pro. As working photographers can tell you, this imaging software can help you re-imagine even the […]
A picture can be worth a heck of a lot more than just a thousand words. If you’ve squinted for ages trying to get just the right photo, you might have the right passion for a career behind the camera. You might even have the right equipment, but do you have the know-how? The Beginner-To-Expert […]
In case you hadn’t noticed from the sleigh bell-heavy music and the hues on your Starbucks cup, the holiday season hasn’t shown any more patience this year. But that doesn’t need to be a bad thing, especially if you’re hoping to get a jump on your shopping. Retailers aren’t waiting til Black Friday to dish […]