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Forget A Brave New World or 1984, Disney keeps its workers in line with the electronic whip

You think your job sucks? Employees at Disneyland in Anaheim, California now have to contend with a new productivity monitoring system they’ve not-so-affectionally dubbed “the electronic whip”. The system takes the normal practice of companies keeping close tabs on productivity numbers to the next level by using a large electronic board with everyone’s stats in real time to coerce employees to compete against each other out of fear of making the tiniest mistake.

Isabel Barrera, a Disneyland Hotel laundry worker for eight years, began calling the new system the “electronic whip” when it was installed last year. The name has stuck.

“I was nervous,” said Barerra, who makes $11.94 an hour, “and felt that I was being controlled even more.”

Measuring productivity is commonplace in the hotel industry, and manual tallies were kept in Disney hotels until last year. Disney says the electronic system, which it also uses at its Florida resort, is becoming more common at hotels, though I haven’t found much evidence of that.

Employees in the Anaheim hotels are required to key in their ID when they arrive, and from then on, their production speed is displayed for all to see. For instance, the monitor might show that S. Lopez is working at an efficiency rate of 37% of expected production. The screen displays the names of several coworkers at once, with “efficiency” numbers in green for those near or above 100% of the expected pace, and red numbers for those who aren’t as fast.

At Paradise Pier, hanging under the monitor is a framed picture ofMickey Mouse on a lunch break at a factory. Judging by his smile, I’d bet his factory doesn’t have an electronic whip.

According to Barrera, the whip has led to a sort of competition among workers, some of whom have tried to race to the head of the pack. But that has led to dissension and made other employees worry that a reasonable pace won’t be enough to keep the boss happy. Barrera and Beatriz Topete, an official with Unite Here Local 11, said employees have been known to skip bathroom breaks out of fear that their production will fall and managers will demand an explanation. They say they felt bad for a pregnant employee who had trouble keeping up.

Via


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