November 20, 2017
By Tyler Mulhearn
Earlier this year, a Wisconsin-based company made the headlines for offering to implant microchips in employees’ hands to simplify things that employees already do every day. Rather than using a card to enter the building or pay for food, employees could use a rice grain-sized microchip instead.
Although innovations such as this may appeal to many employees for increased convenience, the increased invasiveness may deter others. For example, does the building entry time get logged each day? Can this access time be used to reprimand employees? Questions such as these illustrate how innovations in the workplace can be double-edged swords. In one sense, they offer increased convenience and flashiness. On the other hand, they pose potential risks to our security and privacy.
Few would dispute the influence of technology on work currently and in the future. Much discussion has revolved around the automation of jobs. Speculation surrounding the disappearance of “work” and science fiction tales aside, technology boasts a separate concern for the future of work—how to handle new ethical issues. Simply put, ethics involves potential impacts on people.
As long as people are still “working,” ethics will always be a concern. Not only that, ethics will likely increase in value as new technological innovations emerge. These radical changes raise new questions with unclear solutions. As such, executives and employees must be prepared to generate appropriate answers to these difficult questions without harming others.
A blind application of new, flashy products and services may result in unintended consequences for the employees who plan to use those very same products and services. Until the day that robots take over our jobs completely, ethics will be with us for many years to come. We might as well get used to it.
The Ethics Advantage Team