First Dogs, Now Employees: Are Microchips In Your Business' Future?

Brandon Lewis

When you attend festivals and events, you typically gain admission with a physical ticket, a lanyard, or a bracelet. But have you ever considered a chip implant?

Leave it to the tech community to not only introduce this concept but also make it a reality. The Pause Fest, a technology and culture festival held recently in Melbourne, Australia, implanted rice-sized microchips into the hands of 10 VIP ticket holders. Each chip was loaded with three-day passes to the festival. However, the chips also allow users to unlock doors to their houses, gyms, and workplaces and even act as public transport tickets.

Microchip technology is being incorporated in many venues, including the workplace. For example, the Swedish startup Epicenter offered its employees implants that act as swipe cards, according to a CNBC article.

“The biggest benefit, I think, is convenience,” said Patrick Mesterton, co-founder and CEO of Epicenter, in the CNBC article. “It basically replaces a lot of things you have, other communication devices, whether it be credit cards or keys.”

This technology is stirring controversy, and implanting it in business in the future will not be easily implemented. Here’s what you need to know about how corporate chip implants could affect the future of business:

Building trust in leadership?

Building trust is a difficult task for any leader, and it isn’t moving off the radar anytime soon. In fact, the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report found that only 37% of respondents rated CEOs to be sufficiently credible, underscoring the overwhelming need for leaders to build trust.

Unfortunately, corporate chip implants aren’t making that task any easier to cultivate trust. Leaders are asking employees to take part in non-mandatory chip implant experiments. But how far are employees expected to go without knowing the answers to all their questions concerning security and privacy?

Even when employers promise that chip implants will not be used to track employees’ whereabouts or time spent working, the concern is real. The only difference between the chip and other work-related technology is the inability to remove yourself from the data, as it’s essentially part of you.

Now, leaders will need to cultivate a trust so strong that employees will believe that their employers are not tracking their every move or using personal data against them. If leaders don’t succeed, distrust between employees and leaders will lead to a decrease in engagement and retention – and a toxic corporate culture.

Changing the face of corporate culture – again

Year after year, corporate America takes hits for being self-involved and money-hungry. It isn’t only those who are disconnected from corporations who feel this way. In fact, OfficeVibe’s State of Employee Engagement report found that 33% of employees don’t believe that their company’s core values align with their personal values.

The initial announcement of employee chip implants has only increased these negative perceptions. Employees fear for the future of their privacy, and companies are losing the building blocks of their culture. This fear will all but eliminate any transparency, open communication, and motivation that may have once existed. Leaders will need to prove that the culture that was once important to them is still their primary focus.

Recruiters will also deal with skeptical candidates, increasing their need to successfully portray company values and the meaning of work. If leaders and recruiters fail to show their culture, employees and candidates will understandably feel that they are just another cyborg joining the ranks.

Smashing microchip preconceptions

Microchips have been used for years … in pets and mailed packages.

If there is a business future for these tiny chips, leaders will need to crush negative preconceptions. However, companies using the devices, like Epicenter and Wisconsin-based tech firm Three Square Market, don’t see it as a big deal.

“… People have been implanting things into their body, like pacemakers and stuff to control your heart,” Mesterton said in his CNBC interview. “That’s a way, way more serious thing than having a small chip that can actually communicate with devices.”

Comparing a device implanted in employees’ hands for convenience to the lifesaving measures of pacemakers is a stretch. And the fact that chips have been used to track lost pets and mailed packages can be seen as a bit degrading.

The future of business relies on leaders’ ability to show their teams they’re using advanced tech to make employees’ lives better rather than to keep track of every step their employees take.

In the right hands and used for the right purposes, technology can be a company’s best friend. However, as technology creeps into employees’ personal lives, leaders need to put 100% of their attention into making employees feel safe and comfortable with these advances.

For more on where technology and the employee experience meet, see Can We Measure The Employee Experience?

Brandon Lewis

About Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis is president and CEO of Win More Patients.