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Could you ever imagine microchipping your employees? It might sound unreasonable at first, but that's exactly what a Wisconsin-based technology company, Three Square Market, has asked of its fifty plus employees.

Though it's a new and somewhat controversial tactic, getting microchipped has its advantages. It's completely voluntary, and it gives employees the ability to enter the building, use office equipment, log into their computer, exchange business cards and even access their medical information by scanning their microchips. In many ways, it's the password of the future.

Whether you're shaking your head in disbelief or envisioning a future where microchips have replaced passwords, here are some things to consider about the nascent technology:

It's FDA Approved for Humans

Even though Three Square Market will be the first U.S. firm to microchip its employees, the FDA approved the technique for use in humans back in 2004. The VeriChip, which is the name of the approved model, was originally designed for patients to store pertinent medical information that healthcare providers could easily access— it's the same type of microchip that veterinarians implant in pets and can be used to locate them in case they go missing.

The Installation Is Non-Invasive

The microchip is the size and shape of a grain of rice, so installing it in a human is a non-invasive procedure. For Three Square Market employees, the chip is inserted between an individual's thumb and forefinger, and the process doesn't really hurt that much.

Typically, organizations can have someone come into the office to implant the microchips into employees. It's not something that has to be carried out in a medical facility, and it takes a needle to insert. The entire procedures takes less than twenty minutes, requires zero stitches and leaves the microchip virtually invisible.

It Can Increase Employee Productivity

While Three Square Market states only to use microchips to replace passcodes and badges rather than track employee productivity, there is something to be said about the ability to do so. According to a recent MacLean's piece, "implanted chips give employers, or anyone with a properly calibrated reading device, a way to track certain activities—such as when a person arrives and leaves work, how many photocopies they make, or what they order at the company cafeteria."

Although it may cost an organization its employees' trust, those employees who have elected to use microchips may increase their productivity if they know their work is being monitored and tracked. If you think about it, this isn't any different from some of the other tactics that organizations already use to monitor employees today (i.e. video surveillance, reading emails, etc.).

Your Privacy Could Be in Question

Three Square Market states that their microchip is not GPS tracking-enabled, but employees have every right to be concerned about their individual privacy.

Insight into the extent of information that can be gathered and stored using a microchip is still lacking. At this point in time, there's not a lot of information out there on what exactly can be tracked through microchipping, but apparently a cell phone or internet browsing history should be a bigger concern to employees than the microchip.

There Are Health Risks

Depending on who installs the microchip, there could be a risk of infection. Plus, with companies like Dangerous Things selling a microchip device and an injection kit to anyone who wants to purchase one, there's a risk of infection that comes with the do-it-yourself approach. The FDA reports that in rare cases, the implantation site can get infected after implantation or removal. The FDA also notes that the device can migrate to other parts of the body as well, which could be dangerous.

Infection could be the least of your worries if you decide to get microchipped. Experiments have shown that there are many other major health concerns. For example, a foreign-body could cause cellular changes that may eventually lead to cancer.

Although widespread adoption is far off, organizations may want to start thinking about microchipping now. If you do decide to jump on the innovation bandwagon and microchip your employees, here's what to do:

  • Make it voluntary and provide alternatives to those electing to not participate.
  • Thoroughly explain the benefits and risks associated with the microchip to your employees, keeping them well informed.
  • Spell out the specifics in a contract that employees must sign in order to participate. The contract should lay out the intended purpose of the microchip, if data is collected, what data is collected if any, and how that data will be used. As with anything in human resources, documentation is key.

Photo: Creative Commons