The retail giant Walmart has freshly patented a novel technology that includes audio surveillance to monitor employee productivity at checkout counters. The technology named as “listening to the frontend” by Walmart will be integrated into stores to boost the efficiency of employees through sensors that transmit the sound of long queues in the store, the number of bags used, and most discomforting is monitoring conversation of employees among themselves and with customers.
Walmart operates with a lot more burden of its physical retail stores compared to its rival Amazon. It costs the retail giant lot more than an automated warehouse of Amazon and the delivery system. Owing to which it shouldn’t be surprising if they look to squeeze out maximum productivity from their workers.
At present, its newly developed system is just patent, and it is still unclear if Walmart will ever think about developing it. But the way the retail giant has been coming up with new innovative and advanced methods mainly focused on invasive employee surveillance clearly shows that it is following its rival method.
Reverting with comment, Walmart said, “We are always open to adopt new concepts and methods that will further assist to how well we can serve the customers. However, at present, we don’t have much detail about the patent.”
Assistant professor at Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations School, Ifeoma Ajunwa said, “Surveillance of this type might practically hamper the productivity of the employee. According to several types of research, there is a psychological impact of omnipresent surveillance on human. The process happens to augment conflict from employees to management, who start believing, that they stand against us with an oppositional relationship.”
The only way to restrain this kind of surveillance based implementation, other than expecting generosity of the employer, is through raising demand by a union that works for employee rights and benefits. But the fact is the retail giant doesn’t have any union associated with it.
Helen Lewis is a seasoned journalist with nearly 15 years experience. While studying journalism at the University of Alabama, Helen found a passion for finding engaging stories. As a contributor to Alabama Post Gazette, Helen mostly covers human interest pieces.