Leveraging Technology to Identify Unhappy Employees

Employee surveillance is controversial — but some companies are using tech to identify employees that might be at risk of quitting their jobs.

Bookmark(0)

No account yet? Register

Leveraging Technology to Identify Unhappy Employees

As the Great Resignation of 2021 continues into 2022, employee turnover remains a significant problem for organizations. A survey of 25,000 employees by Joblist reported that 73% of currently employed workers said they were thinking about quitting their jobs, and nearly a quarter of those actively looking had already quit.

The current talent shortage and hiring challenges only exacerbate the problem. When employees quit, it’s difficult and expensive to replace them.

If one of your key employees was looking to leave, you’d certainly want to know. By understanding who is at risk, you can be proactive about trying to keep them. When you see warning signs that multiple employees are considering leaving or expressing unhappiness, you may also need to assess what’s driving them to look for other jobs and take a look at your workplace culture.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Happy workers are productive and more like to stay. Unhappy workers not only may be looking to quit, but they can infect other workers with their negativity. Today, some companies are actively seeking to identify disgruntled employees and taking steps to reduce employee turnover using technology.

73% of currently employed workers said they were thinking about quitting their jobs, and nearly a quarter of those actively looking had already quit.

How to identify disgruntled employees using technology

Employee surveillance technology is a complex and debatable topic. However, some employers are using it to identify unhappy employees before they jump ship.

Monitoring sentiment

AI-powered tools can analyze data to discern emotion and flag concerns in email or collaboration tools like Slack. The software can look for telltale clues that signal an employee’s emotional state, including keywords or emojis.

Such tools can be used to monitor overall employee satisfaction or surface individuals expressing repeatedly negative emotions.

Corporations like automaker Ford are using a simpler approach, asking employees to click smiling or frowning icons on tablets and offering workers the opportunity to provide more in-depth feedback. Similar devices at employee time clocks could help tie emotions to individual employees.

Confidential chatbots

Some companies are deploying chatbots that ask employee questions sporadically to assess sentiment. For example, it might ask workers questions like:

  • Do you find your work interesting and challenging?
  • Is your manager helping your reach your full potential?
  • Are you learning new skills to advance your career?

A repeated negative response can alert HR that they may need to intervene.

Online surveys

Online surveys are an easy way to ask questions and gather responses. Some organizations have taken surveys to another level by applying social listening algorithms.

For example, when IBM was redesigning its performance reviews, it wanted to get feedback on the current system and the changes they were proposing. Social listening tools sifted through the tens of thousands of responses and revealed a widespread complaint about how employees were evaluated. This knowledge helped IBM to reflect and make changes, and they were able to avoid employing a policy that employees didn’t feel was fair.

Learn more about best practices in our free eBook, Best practices in employee engagement surveys.

Wearable tech and apps

By finding the moments that led to employee frustration or dissatisfaction, organizations can be more proactive about resolving problems.

Companies concerned about the mood of their remote and at-home workers may offer employees wearable technology to track emotional states. Linked to a mobile phone app and web interface, employees record positive or negative emotions throughout the day, and managers can view an online dashboard to see how employees are feeling.

Others are using apps to collect data in real-time. By finding the moments that led to employee frustration or dissatisfaction, organizations can be more proactive about resolving problems. For example, one company uncovered employee frustration with the slow Internet speed at peak times. This affected employee mood and productivity, and the employer took steps to increase bandwidth, which resulted in measurable improvements in job satisfaction.

In China, some factory and construction industry employers have even utilized AI-enhanced helmets to monitor workers’ anger, anxiety, or grief. Emotional surveillance tech flags when workers are having a bad day or experiencing negative emotions as this can impact safety as well as output in jobs requiring precision. When negative emotions compound over time, companies know workers may be at risk for leaving.

Another type of wearable is being used to monitor employee heart rates. Tying such information to a person’s calendar or job list can help determine which activities induce more stress.

Addressing employee concerns

There are benefits of monitoring, but there are also ethical concerns and the potential for employees to feel their company doesn’t trust them.

However you identify unhappy employees in the workplace, you must address their concerns. More than 3/4 of employees say they want to provide feedback and create a more open dialogue about workplace concerns. Yet, nearly half of those surveyed said they don’t believe managers respond to feedback in any meaningful ways.

In today’s environment, employers need to take proactive steps to manage their workplace culture to retain and motivate their workers. With only a third of United States workers reporting that they are actively engaged at work, companies need to pay attention to the warning signs that indicate employees are unhappy, looking for work elsewhere, or putting in a minimal effort.

There are benefits of monitoring, but there are also ethical concerns and the potential for employees to feel their company doesn’t trust them. Each organization will need to make its own decision about whether employee surveillance tactics are right for them.

Regardless of whether you use tech to monitor employees or more traditional ways to assess or measure how your workers are feeling, the message is clear: ignore employee unhappiness at your own risk.

Bookmark(0)

No account yet? Register

Might also interest you