Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Focus and Leverage Part 363

I have written about performance metrics and traditional cost accounting many times on my blog, but what I want to give you today is taking these metrics to the extreme.  In particular, the performance metric that I dislike the most is efficiency.  This metric has resulted in many, many “bad” decisions which usually result in problems with morale among the hourly work force.  Below there is a link to an article that is clearly based on cost accounting.  You see, the company that this article is written about is now limiting, of all things, bathroom breaks to 6 minutes.  And if an employee goes over that 6 minute limit, they face the possibility of disciplinary action.

The union, Teamsters local 743, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board claiming WaterSaver, the company who implemented this policy, unfairly disciplined 19 workers in June for "excessive use" of washrooms.  The company's human resources department described "excessive use of the bathroom as... 60 minutes or more over the last 10 working days," according to the affidavit. Do the math and it works out to 6 minutes a day.

The article quotes WaterSaver's CEO, Steve Kersten, as saying that 120 hours of production were lost in May because of bathroom visits outside of allotted break times.  WaterSaver has even gone to the extreme of rewarding employees who don’t use the restroom while they’re at work for a whole month a $20 gift card!  For me, this is a ridiculous policy which probably originated out of the concept of efficiency.

The union, who has filed a grievance, said monitoring bathroom time is an invasion of their privacy.  "The company has spreadsheets on every union employee on how long they were in the bathroom," said Nick Kreitman, the union representative at WaterSavers. "There have been meetings with workers and human resources where the workers had to explain what they were doing in the bathroom," he said.  At any rate, read the article and if you think it’s a good policy, then you probably believe that monitoring efficiency is a good thing too.  For the record, I do not think it is.

Bob Sproull

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