In a bit of news that can be filed under the “Why Don’t They Just Convert to Robots and Get it Over With Already?” department, KFC restaurants in the midwest and southeastern United States are adding fingerprint sensors to cut costs and keep better tabs on employees.
For white collar workers everywhere, the punch clock is pretty much a distant relic of a bygone era. Yet in the glorious and fabulous world of fast-food employment, worker drones still have to punch in and out to earn their measly wages. If you’ve read Sex, Bombs and Burgers, you know that such companies are always experimenting with how to save a few pennies through new technologies. With the scale of their operations, those pennies add up to millions and billions.
The fast food biz—and many other sectors that use time clocks to track employees—is rife with something called “buddy punching,” which is where one worker punches his or her friend in early if that person is late. The result is that many employees are getting paid when they’re not actually at work.
The shock! The horror! This irony to any white-collar types who take work-related phone calls when they’re not at the office, or the total comedy to us freelancers who are always working.
Anyhow, the biometric fingerprint sensors supposedly prevent all that and save big bucks, not just by keeping close tabs on tardy employees, but also in supervision costs. I wrote about how McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts were using this technology a few years back and, as a biometrics expert explained, “if you don’t need someone watching people clock in and clock out… you can save thousands of man hours.”
Of course, this all assumes that fast-food employees don’t get wise to the technology. As Hollywood has amply shown, there are many ways to fake fingerprints. None of this would be a problem if KFC and McDonald’s just used robots to serve us our chicken and burgers.