Reading this Instacart shoppers say they face unforgiving metrics: ‘It’s a very easy job to lose’ I am reminded of a post I wrote a few years ago about metrics. You can read it here. This story about Instacart made me cringe, and I’m thankful that I have never used them. It did shed some light on why when I ever crossed paths with them in my local grocery, they always appeared rude. How could they appear cheerful when every moment of their day is being monitored by an algorithm, including restroom breaks? I had to reread the paragraph “To avoid missing orders, Harston schedules his bathroom visits — after four hours of work, the app notifies him that he has earned a 10-minute paid break. Meanwhile, Instacart managers use the app to see if he’s running behind on his orders. The app also tracks Harston’s customer communications, automatically searching for specific terms to ensure that he’s using Instacart’s preferred script. If he doesn’t, his metrics will take another hit.” This is humiliating, and an unsafe work environment. To make it more appalling “employees receive minimum wage and work a maximum of 29 hours a week — just under the 30-hour cutoff to qualify for employee healthcare.” To escape paying an employee health insurance is just shameful. The company reports “Each minute we save on each delivery is 25 cents in gross margins. When we save that money, we can give that money back to the customer, so it’s cheaper for the customer to make an order on Instacart.”
I am not a customer, but after reading the article, and many of the comments, many customers seem to be in alignment with my thinking- which is that they should take the savings and give their staff a raise, along with health insurance. Whatever happened to treating employees with dignity and respect? This is clearly a job where you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. As the author writes “He clocks in for his shift exactly on the hour — if he’s even five minutes late, he’ll receive a ‘reliability incident.’ Within four minutes he must accept any incoming orders; any longer, and he’ll be kicked off the shift and risk getting an incident. Three incidents in a week, and he’s at risk of termination.” When did the world start to see employees as just numbers and a line item?