Bosses track your ‘happiness’ by spying on your life

By Brian Williams
April 6, 2020

Claiming they’re determined to bring “happiness” to their workers, bosses are increasingly intruding into their personal lives, supposedly to monitor how pleased they are with the company. The fact is, this is part of the bosses’ drive to speed up the pace of work to boost their profits.

“Smile! Your Boss Is Tracking Your Happiness,” headlined a March 7 Wall Street Journal  article that described companies’ use of new software to spy on workers’ thoughts and behavior.  

Some companies pay up to $1 million a year to software firm Receptiviti, which digs around in personal email and messages. When workers are down, Receptiviti Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Kreindler told the Journal, they less frequently use “we” or “us” in talking about their employers.  

Another “happiness monitoring device,” being developed by Cornerstone OnDemand Inc., is to gather heart-rate data through devices workers would wear, such as smartwatches that company snoops could monitor.  

Also being promoted is programming company laptop cameras that would regularly scan workers’ faces to monitor their moods. “Companies are going to have to figure out ways to better engage and drive up the performance of the employees that they have,” Nicole Jordan, an executive at Grant Thornton, one of the largest accounting firms in the world, told the Journal.   

At Ford Motor Co., “HappyOrNot” machines have been in place at the entrances to some plants since 2018. Workers are asked questions like “How optimistic are you feeling about your day today?” and told to answer. 

Those working in retail face some of the greatest pressures. Amid a rash of panic-buying over coronavirus concerns, these government-designated “essential workers” are  under intense pressure to restock shelves fast and often, 20 employees at Walmart, Target and CVS told Business Insider.  

At the same time, with strict attendance policies and few if any sick days available, workers are concerned about losing their jobs if they become ill.

At Walmart, absences are counted on a point system, and if you get five points in a six-month period, you’re in trouble. One point is equal to just one day off work, so you’re sick and take off five days, you’re toast.  

Workers need to fight to defend our jobs, wages and working conditions. The victories we score will make us happier.