Is This Really Kneaded? Identifying and Eliminating Potentially Harmful Monitoring Practices
Speaker(s)Matthias Heinz (University of Cologne, Germany)
LocationTinbergen Institute Amsterdam, room 1.01
Date and time
February 21, 2023
15:30 - 16:30
In a large German bakery chain, many workers report negative perceptions of monitoring via checklists. We survey workers and managers about the value and time costs to all in-store checklists, and randomly remove two of the most perceivedly time-consuming and low-value checklists in half of stores. Sales increase by 2-3% and store manager attrition substantially decreases. Mystery shopping indicates this occurs without a rise in workplace problems. Before random assignment, regional managers predict whether the treatment would be effective for each store. Ex post, beneficial effects of checklist removal are fully concentrated in stores where regional managers predict that the treatment will be effective, reflecting substantial heterogeneity in returns that is well-understood by these upper managers. Effects appear not to come from workers having more time for production, but rather indirectly, with surveys suggesting improvements in employee trust and commitment. Following the RCT, the firm implemented firmwide reductions in monitoring, eliminating a checklist that employees regard as demeaning, but keeping a checklist that helps coordinate production. Joint paper with Guido Friebel, Mitchell Hoffman, Tobias Kretschmer, and Nick Zubanov.