How tech-for-good positively impacts employee mental health

Can business owners and directors afford to miss out on valuable insights that tech-driven data can provide, that can positively impact upon employee mental wellbeing and productivity? Dave McRobbie, CMO of People Matter, doesn’t think so…


Mental health at work is finally being taken seriously by organisations, and the link between wellbeing and productivity is firmly on the agenda for business owners and HR directors.


In fact, a recent survey by Investors In People has found that 59 per cent of UK employees said that work has impacted upon their mental health at some point in their career, and 35 per cent have considered leaving their current position due to stress.


From an HR perspective, 78% of workers said that they feel less productive when stressed at work, but just 36% of UK workers say their workplace supports mental wellbeing.


Although it’s a big step forward that these issues are being examined, the statistics show that there is a glaring gap between work-related mental health issues and organisational response. There is clearly still a stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace.


Work-related stress can affect absence rates, in the short or long term, and – on a day to day basis – stressed and burnt-out people will not be able to perform at their best, which has a huge impact upon productivity levels and overall workplace culture.


There are lots of issues to unpack around employee wellbeing, but positive change can only ever happen when we share responsibility and work together.


How “tech for good” can help


Although tech surrounding big data and behaviour tracking can often be used for seemingly negative reasons, it can also be used for the greater good. We created People Matter as a tool for positive change, especially for organisations and their senior teams.


Essentially, People Matter has created a mental health and wellness app that – using technology similar to FitBit and other trackers – monitors mental wellbeing.


We partner with organisations who care about creating a culture where everyone – workers, managers, and business owners – feels well, safe and able to grow.


On a personal level, our smart technology aggregates and analyses hundreds of digital clues to help individuals measure how different events, relationships and circumstances affects their wellbeing, and from a business perspective, the data can be used to provide a constant measure of work culture and mental wellness trends, and insights into what impacts upon wellbeing. It also helps business leaders, directors and HR managers to understand burnout risks, and allows them to access resources and curated advice on how to help.


Data-led insight – too good to miss out on?


Having data-led insight from your own employees can be invaluable to the HR function – and the bottom line – of your organisation.


Rather than relying on outdated models, general information and advice from other organisations, smart technology can enable you to actually glean data and insight from your own business and your own employees.


Simply ignoring the issue is no longer a valid option for any business, and – even though employee wellbeing is the most important issue at stake here – absenteeism and lack of productivity can only ever have a hugely negative impact upon any business.


Much research has shown that increased demands at work such as workload, pressures, ambiguity, relationship conflict and poor management behaviours are contributing to employees feeling burnt out.


Burnout has now been officially recognised as a workplace syndrome by the World Health Organisation, providing a clear signal to business owners to stand up and take note.


Clearly, ensuring employees feel mentally well to be their best is not only a moral imperative but also a simple economic argument. Every ounce of our productivity at work comes from our mind, and our state of mind dictates the effectiveness of our application; how we relate to others, behave at work, perform and engage with our work to contribute to the collective organisation success.


Using tech to reliably inform the way you do business, especially when the benefits are extensive, can only ever be a good decision.


Additionally, if competitors are using tech-driven insights to take tailored actions, it’s not a great business decision to be left behind.


Keeping data in the hands of the individual – the big issue!


Although overall trends and “big” data captured from People Matter’s trackers can be used by the HR function of an organisation, individual data stays that way – with the individual. All personal data stays in the hands of each employee, ensuring that People Matter offers a “humane” tech solution to both employees and businesses.


We track, follow and algorithmically interrogate behaviour, but in the interest of both privacy and transparency, the personal knowledge stays in the hands of the individual.


Disruptive tech solutions such as People Matter are set to shake up the business community, but – considering that recent research by workplace incentive provider One4all Rewards found that 39 per cent of employees work harder if they are happy, and 38 per cent said their happiness impacts their performance – it can only be a positive thing.


I’d always implore business owners and senior leadership teams to take employee mental health and wellbeing seriously and to tackle matters head-on rather than sweeping them under the carpet.


Tech-driven solutions such as People Matter that provide valuable insights into these issues should form part of any business toolkit.

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