Your Global HR Director Knows When You Are In The Loo…

Insight & Opinion

Imagine if your employer could listen in to conversations, detect moods by monitoring the tone of your voice, know how many times you visited the loo in a day, and, how long you spent in there! Well, this technology is very real and becoming a prevalent tool for larger organisations seeking to understand and optimise their staff’s activity.

In the fight to understand data at a micro-level, behavioural monitoring tools appear to be the latest weapon for employers as they look to gain true insight into their staff. For larger companies the appeal is obvious, whose senior management team might feel disjointed from what is actually happening out in the field.

Big Brother is Watching You

Systems such as Humanyze and BetterWorks have produced apps and wearable tech devices that track productivity output and, in Humanyze’s case, can measure up to 40 different parameters including location, tone of voice, posture and much more.

Partnering with Bank of America, Humanyze are trialling their system to uncover trends by monitoring stress levels and the tone of voice of staff. Employing over 10,000 people, Humanyze have a chunky demographic of people to choose from within Bank of America, so you’d imagine some interesting insight. So far, group lunches (rather than staggered lunch breaks) works better for overall moral and afternoon efficiency. At this stage BOA don’t want to release much more info than that.

A Fine Line

On the one hand employers get a very clear view of the workforce, a top down look of where improvements can be made, key insight into underperforming staff and an overall feel for the personal tone of employees. On the other, disillusioned staff and a potential conflict of trust and privacy.

There is a fine line between collecting valuable business data and turning people into just numbers.

In a recent job satisfaction survey conducted by Glassdoor (based on data from 221k users) they discovered that aside from pay, “Culture and Values” was number 1 on the employee satisfaction list. People want to feel a part of something and become more than just a number, trust is a value and forms a very important part of this buy-in process.

Attract / Retain vs Data

For any company, attracting and retaining staff is essential for growth, as is understanding key business data, but getting the balance right is tough. If the costs of obtaining staff data outweighs the ability to retain and attract staff, then wearable tech in the workplace might be a short-lived experiment.

Connect with me on LinkedIn: Richard Hamilton