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Employee ID Badge Numbers: Maintaining Security While Losing Employee Identity?

"Paging Employee Number 6714! Employee Number 6714! Please come to the manager's office immediately." 

Through every cubicle in the office comes a shuffling of hands as employees glance at their ID card numbers. One woman sighs and rises from her chair, responding to the command issued over the public address system. She shuffles her way past the rat maze of square walls until she reaches the door at the other end of the office. She knocks before going inside. 

The manager looks up from his papers and asks, "Are you Employee 6714?" 

The woman frowns, "My name is Amy." 

The manager grunts. "Your team leader said you gave an excellent presentation yesterday during the conference. I wanted to pass on the message." 

Amy smiles, "Thank you!" 

The manager nods and turns back to his computer. "Keep up the good work, Employee 6714." 

Amy's smile fades, all her elation from the comment dashed away as she leaves the office and returns to her cubicle. Disgruntled, she takes a notepad from her purse and begins writing about the situation that just happened. She hopes to one day write a book about it. 

Employee ID Numbers? Take a Lesson From Companies Like Microsoft 

You may think that the above scenario could never happen in the corporate world -- that employees could never be reduced to identification solely by their employee numbers in their work environment. Then a company like Microsoft comes along and completely turns the world upside down. 

In 2012, two Microsoft employees became fed up with the dysfunctional corporate environment. They wrote a book about their experiences at the company. What makes this book unique from other "I think my company sucks!" books is that the two employees used their employee numbers to represent themselves. They did this for two reasons: to maintain anonymity and to show people what it is like for employees to be reduced to a set of ID numbers. 

So this begs the question to both small and large companies: Should you use employee ID card numbers? 

We never want to think that our company would have the type of unfair hiring practices, bullying and burnout that was alleged at Microsoft (even though we may secretly hope our company is like Microsoft when it comes to business success and profits). Unfortunately, such things can happen, creating friction between the different employee echelons, when ID numbers are issued. Managers and CEOs lose sight of the fact that employees aren't merely numbered robots to be worked until exhaustion. Meanwhile, lower-level employees become upset with dictatorial behavior and stop caring about their jobs, negatively affecting work productivity and quality. 

Yet employee ID numbers offer many benefits to companies when it comes to streamlining operations. Let's take a look at the advantages of using employee ID numbers. 

Advantages of Using Employee ID Numbers 

First and foremost, employee ID numbers on access cards are a security measure that companies can use to ensure that only authorized individuals are allowed into the building or into certain areas of the company. ID numbers are usually based on a unique sequence. Part of each ID number gives employees access to the building and to their designated department areas. The other part of the number identifies the employee whose photo is on the badge. 

When combined with an ID management system, employers have instant access to information about each employee. Employers can tell when employees clock into and out of the office each day and can see when employees are in restricted departments, are taking overly long lunch breaks, or are clocking out early. 

Having access to this type of information allows companies to save money by not overpaying unproductive employees while rewarding those who have stellar attendance and work ethics. Companies can pay their employees based on how much time they spend at their desks and on their work output. 

But as with any beneficial system, there will always be those who abuse it. Employee ID numbers separate employees based on department and management level. This can cause lower-level employees to feel unfairly discriminated against by upper management if higher-ups treat workers like numbered slaves chained to a keyboard. 

If you plan to use employee ID numbers in your company, you must ensure that all employees are treated equally and fairly. You should create a positive working experience where every employee respects others for who they are, understanding each person's personality and how it benefits the company. 

Remember, employees do have names above their ID numbers. 


This article is from Greg Stephens of Safe Card ID, a provider of ID card printers, accessories, and supplies in Charlotte, NC.