For Retail Workers, Big Bro Is Tracking

Computer systems help max productivity, cut costs
By Laurel Jorgensen,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2008 6:37 AM CDT
Customers shop for back-to-school clothes at Macy's on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2007 in New York.    (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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(Newser) – As a sluggish economy pinches retailers, many are now turning to computer programs to track employee productivity, the Wall Street Journal reports. At Ann Taylor stores, a computer system calculates average sales per hour, units sold, and dollars per transaction —then automatically schedules the best workers during the store’s peak hours.

Vendors of the programs —also in use at stores like Gap, Limited, and Williams-Sonoma —say they can boost productivity by 15% and cut labor costs by 5%. But some employees aren’t happy about the monitoring. “There was a lot of animosity” toward the system, a former Ann Taylor employee says. “Computers aren’t very forgiving when it comes to an individual’s life.”