Tracking employee happiness is good for business, but it comes with challenges.August 07, 2017
Not long ago, strapping on a pedometer during a lunchtime walk was the cutting edge of tech for tracking employee health. As technology advances, tools are moving beyond employee fitness programs and into tracking productivity at work and that special feeling that ultimately leads to productivity—happiness.
One such tool is The Happiness Index, which gathers real-time data to measure and improve employee engagement, as well as increase client retention. Happiness Index CEO and Co-Founder Tony Latters says he's seen a significant rise in businesses focusing on happiness and culture to help them recruit and retain staff.
"What we are seeing is people wanting to track and monitor changes in culture over time, and measure some of the "intangible" elements of the business," he shares. "This is why we created what we call "The 2nd P&L" – a focus on People and Leadership. It is not designed to replace the traditional P&L, but to complement it; providing measurable and actionable insight on every aspect of your business – including culture.
Latters explains that the results gathered by the index are immediately available for analysis via the index's online platform. This allows businesses to gather instant intelligence to gauge the sentiment of their most important asset – their people.
"When creating The Happiness Index program one of our clients wanted to focus on improving business strategy, processes and systems, recognition and general happiness," says Latters. "By sending out pulse surveys, they could gather valuable insights across these areas, and build action plans to improve them. The unexpected part was when they also discovered that some people had reported issues with a particular senior manager. Off the back of this feedback, they acted immediately and offered support and coaching to the senior manager. The situation has since improved, and they learned the importance of pinpointing problem areas and tackling them before they escalate."
Where is happiness tech heading?
Happiness and Change Consultant Samantha Clarke says happiness tracking tech is heading in a positive direction, but there's plenty of potential issues to address.
"We should use tech to serve us versus us serving it," she says. "In the office, tech offers the opportunity to improve our lives and business, as well as engage and educate employees. However, it's still early days."
When asked what some other implications there are to consider regarding happiness tracking technology, she said that increased employee data to work through will create the need for tighter privacy policies, and that companies will need to dive into the following questions.
- What will the opt-in policy look like and who has access?
- If the results reveal something sinister, will employers alert employees, or worse still insurance companies?
- What happens when an employee leaves the company?
"All the areas need to be ironed out," says Clarke. "So while productivity and growth might be the ultimate goal, it's important to look at what is mutually beneficial for the employees too."
After all, one-sided happiness isn't genuine happiness. Only win-win benefits for companies and employees are truly sustainable.