Biohacking De-brief

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A year ago, this blogger posted an item exploring the ‘new’ practice of implanting microchips into employees for purposes of tracking and monitoring.

Click here to read Chipping In?

Since that time, I have shown the clip to a number of under-graduate and post-graduate students in both Human Resources Planning and Human Resources Analytics classes.

The response from these student has been unanimous. There was solid agreement that implanting microchips into employees is a really bad idea and not a single person would volunteer to have it done to themselves. When we looked at this possible practice from the perspective of a Human Resources professional, the responses were not as vehement. Some students could see the possible benefits of microchip technology implanted into employees for certain sectors, but the safety risks and possible human rights issues far outweighed the possible employer-related benefits. The consensus was still in place that this practice might be suitable for someone else but definitely ‘not for me’.

With this in mind, it is interesting to see how the movement to implement microchips, known as Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, has expanded. It is a technology that is being accepted and practiced by both employers and employees as noted in a recent article published by CIOToday.com.

Click here to read an update on microchip implants.

Far from it being perceived as an invasive and risky procedure, the article explores how microchip technology provides for positive engagement with ourselves and with others. First, it speaks to our narcissistic needs as the technology provides massive amounts of data about ourselves. It also may provide comfort to those who see the collection of personal data by someone else as a sign of belonging and caring. If someone else is watching us all the time, it must mean that we are connected to and participating with each other in a way that goes beyond regular social interactions. What could be more fun socially than being invited to participate in an employment related ‘chip’ party where the chips are not for eating but for implanting? If everybody is doing it, why not join the party?

No matter what we may think about the use of implanted microchips for employees, this is definitely a technology that will continue to evolve and will continue to provoke our individual responses well into the future.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you agree that having a microchip implanted into your body would provide you with data that could help you in some way? Explain your rationale.
  2. What do you think about the use of individual technology that brings a feeling of connection and participation with others?
  3. As an employer, how could you use data from employee microchips to improve organizational performance?

Chipping In?

Hand with digital images
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

We microchip our pets. Looks like it’s time to microchip our people.

Human chip tracking systems have arrived. This technology is already implanted, implemented and being used in the workplace around the world.

Click Here to Read the Article and Watch the Clip

From the perspective of a ‘bio-hacker,’ the introduction of a microchip under the skin for employees seems to be a logical thing. An implanted RFID appears to make a human’s work-life easier by allowing for automatic interaction with numerous electronic devices. Employees can access the ‘internet of things’ without needing to remember passcodes in their brains or carry key-cards on their persons. Opening locked doors, turning on the computer or accessing a code-only photocopier now requires a simple swipe of one’s hand near the device and, presto, it works! It works because each microchip is coded with the individual employee’s personal identification.

Bio-devices such as microchips can measure and track anything and anyone.

This is where the ethical boundaries may start to become a bit fuzzy. If an implanted microchip is used by employees to access employer devices, it surely can be used by the employer to access and track employee behaviour.

When our pets get lost, they can be found thanks to microchip technology. When an employee is ‘lost,’ or absent from work for an unknown reason, will an employer resist the temptation to track the absent employee’s whereabouts through similar human microchip technology?

As HR professionals, we need to be ready to deal with the moral and ethical impact of this type of interactive and intrusive technology, today.

After all, we will be swiping open the doors to a very brave new world, tomorrow.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What types of employee tracking would benefit an employer using human microchip technology to monitor the workforce?
  2. Would you agree to have a microchip implanted in your hand as a condition of employment? Why or why not?
  3. What types of benefits are there for employees to have implanted microchip technology?

 

If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When?

IT and technological changes are not the wave of the future, they are the drivers of our current, present state and will continue to influence how we all work on a day-to-day basis.  This is most evident in the re-shaping of tactical Human Resource functions that can (and should be!) done more efficiently and effectively by automated systems.  Tactical functions include things like payroll processes and attendance tracking which are typically reliant on high volume effort but have very low value result.  It does not mean that these types of functions are not necessary; It does mean that a human person does not necessarily need to do them.

C3PO and R2D2 with caption "Don't technical with me"

Source: Tumblr. The above content constitutes a link to the source website

 

Does this mean we, as HR Professionals, should be concerned about our careers?

Click here to read the article

If the only value an HR department brings to an organization is one that is based on pushing processes then, of course, our positions will disappear.  However, HR should be, and is, much more than just the process pushers or the compliance police.

We need to move out of tactics and into ensuring organizational transformation through strategic leadership and people management.  The value that HR brings to any organization must be measured through strategic outcomes and big picture deliverables.  HR is the wave of the future that must lead organizations by focusing on ethical stewardship and corporate social responsibility.

So let’s not worry about losing those low value tactical functions.  This will gives us, as HR Professionals, more opportunity to build valuable organizational strength through powerful creativity and passion for the Human Resources profession.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Identify the differences in value between tactical and strategic HR functions.
  2. What does Corporate Social Responsibility mean to you?
  3. In your current work environment, identify three processes that should be automated through the use of technology and the resulting impact of those changes.
  4. Identify three specific strategic functions that HR should be doing in order to be perceived as bringing value to the organization.