Workplace Happiness: Mood Detectors

How far should we go to find out whether our employees are happy?

There are some new devices and technologies on the market that can detect the mood of the wearer. Using a specific algorithm, the devices or apps monitor a set of factors that give an overall rating of someone’s happiness.

What could such a device mean for the busy boss with a long roster of employees?

 As with any device, mood detectors have their own advantages and disadvantages:

The Pros:

  • Research shows: happy employees = productive employees
  • Employers may be more aware of how employees are coping with work stress
  • It can save time for bosses and employees who do not have time to check-in with each other
  • It allows for exchange of personal information without intimidating face-to-face conversations

The Cons:

  • Costs associated with purchasing and running devices or apps
  • The exact efficacy of the device is still unknown
  • Employees may feel as if their privacy is being violated
  • It may contribute to the decline of face-to-face communication, which cannot be replaced by gadget

But I don’t have the financial resources to acquire happiness meters. What can I do?

Fortunately, there are other ways to check in with employees to see how they are feeling.  Some ideas include:

  • Creating a non-threatening environment: put up “safe space” posters to visually remind employees that your office is a judgment-free zone where they can feel free to share their thoughts and feelings without repercussions.
  • Bi-weekly or monthly check-ins: if your schedule can accommodate it, approach your employees in-person, on an individual basis, to see how they are doing. Being one-on-one is less threatening than disclosing in a group, and simply showing the employee that you care will help them feel valued.
  • “Suggestion” box: not everyone feels comfortable with sharing their innermost feelings with their boss. Place a small box in the staffroom where employees can anonymously submit their feelings about a project that is spilling over into their free time or a co-worker who is not pulling their weight. Any issues that arise can be shared with the whole team, or addressed with any necessary solutions such as workplace training or team-building activities.    

Do you think a mood monitor is a worthy investment? What would you expect to gain from the introduction of such a device? Are there any strategies you use at work to check in with your employees or co-workers? Tell us about them in the comments below.