Saint Louis University Law Journal
In recent years, I have been writing about two increasingly salient labor and employment law issues: the presence of invisible labor and the rise of people analytics.' First, invisible labor could include emotion work, such as being a colleague's "work wife," or could include "identity work" that is time and effort spent on making others feel comfortable with the worker. Invisible labor might also include uncompensated time spent in "looking good" and "sounding right." It could also include instances where technology obscures work that is being done through a website platform or mobile application. The second trend is the increasing adoption of people analytics, which seeks to use data to quantify and analyze traits, experiences, and skills of employees. People analytics aims to promote more accurate measures about quantity and quality of work to hire, promote, and fire employees, rather than the unreliable and often biased "gut instinct" or anecdotal observation.
When contemplated together, however, the two issues of invisible labor and people analytics are an uneasy fit. The ability to quantify and analyze work data depends on that data being readily visible, in a manner that statistical metrics can accurately capture. If the factors that lead to success at work cannot be accurately measured by analytics, then analytics are of limited usefulness. Further, hidden and invisible labor are fundamentally concerning, especially when they serve to hide particular functions that workers take on for little or no pay. In some instances, such work is not even apparent to the workers themselves. Is it even possible to capture these forms of "missing" labor or workers?