In the 'Careful What You Measure, You Just Might Get It' Department

From the Wall Street Journal, a story about retailers using a combination of time/motion studies and software to squeeze efficiencies out of their staff. Stores Count Seconds to Trim Labor Costs:

Interviews with cashiers at 16 Meijer stores suggest that its system has spurred many to hurry up — and has dialed up stress levels along the way. Mr. Gunther, who is 22 years old, says he recently told a longtime customer that he couldn’t chat with her anymore during checkout because he was being timed. “I was told to get people in and out,” he says. Other cashiers say they avoid eye contact with shoppers and generally hurry along older or infirm customers who might take longer to unload carts and count money.

Efficiency has a lot of value but you have to be careful you aren’t undercutting your ability to deliver the same product or service at an equal or higher level of quality.

It reminds me a bit of Circuit City firing their highest-paid and most experienced sales people to cut costs and then watched their sales weaken just as they headed into our current economic mess. Genius!

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