Should CIOs Track Employee Happiness?

Does checking on employee's mental state affect privacy?  <br /><a href=" "><span style="font-size: xx-small;">Image Credit:  roxyfletcher_r04 </span></a> <!-- -->
Does checking on employee’s mental state affect privacy?
Image Credit: roxyfletcher_r04

As the person with the CIO job, one of your many tasks is to find ways to make sure that the people that your company has hired choose to stick around. This can be a difficult thing to do: all of the computers in the world can’t tell you what your company’s employees are thinking at any given moment in time. CIOs need to find ways to use technology to determine if the company’s employees are happy or not. Is this something that we can do without violating everyone’s privacy?

It’s All About Happiness

Companies are anxious to retain and energize staffers. In order to accomplish this more and more companies say they are making employee happiness a priority. This shift has fueled a cottage industry devoted to monitoring, analyzing and improving workers’ moods. It has also raised new questions about whether employee privacy is at risk as companies monitor more of their workers’ behavior.

As an example of what companies are doing, all the person in the CIO position has to do is to take a look over at Inc. where many workers receive a daily survey with questions like whether they have had too many meetings lately or if their manager has thanked them in the past week. At Workday Inc., the human-resources and finance software maker sends out employee surveys at the end of every week on what the company calls “Feedback Fridays.” At PepsiCo Inc., the beverage giant invites employees to identify systems that prevent them from getting work done quickly via a tool known as the “process shredder.”

What is going on here is that the corporate world’s increasing focus on happiness reflects a new reality. Prior to the pandemic the U.S. unemployment rate was near a 50-year low which means that it can be difficult and expensive to replace workers. In a tougher economy, workers might just be happy to have a job, but retention will always be a challenge for top talent. Happy workers tend to be more productive, according research that has been done, and a strong corporate culture can make workplaces more attractive to potential job seekers.

How Can A CIO Help To Find Out How Employees Feel?

Some companies are making a prominent display of their attention to happiness. Gleaning insights from information already generated by employees, or what some call “data exhaust,” has become an increasing focus for many companies, although some HR experts say they have some concerns. Gathering the data means that the company is listening in on individual employees and they have to be careful when they do this. Though sophisticated methods exist to anonymize information all it takes is one executive asking the IT people to dive in and look at individual employees, and that privacy would be gone.

Companies are going to have to figure out ways to better engage and drive up the performance of the employees that they have. Companies realize that it’s hard to get your arms around how employees are feeling on any given day. One way to accomplish this is to analyze the sentiment of comments that employees post below articles and videos on the company’s corporate intranet using natural language processing tools. It can parse them by region or demographics like age to show, for instance, whether worker sentiment of early career professionals is different than people who have been with the company for years, The company’s HR team can take the trends it spots to an internal committee made up of employees and ask them to elaborate on issues.

What All Of This Means For You

In each company, a CIO plays a critical role in helping the company to realize the importance of information technology in order to move faster and be more successful. Companies are starting to realize that how happy their employees are is a critical factor in how well they will be able to compete in the market. CIOs are being asked to help out in coming up with ways to determine the overall level of happiness for the company’s employees.

The desire to know how happy a company’s employees are has created a booming market for tools and technologies that can be used to measure how an employee is currently feeling. Many different companies have adopted a wide variety of ways to measure their employee’s current level of job satisfaction. CIOs can use the data that employees are already generating in order to determine how they are currently feeling. There are issues with this because it may start to intrude on employee’s privacy. Understanding how employees are feeling is a new job that has been assigned to the CIO.

CIOs are well suited to determine how employees are feeling about the company and their jobs. The data that is needed to determine this is already available, it’s just going to be up to the CIO to collect and process it. When doing this, it will be critical that the employees don’t feel as though the CIO is creating a “big brother” type of atmosphere in the workplace. If done correctly, the CIO can help to make sure that the company’s senior management understands how its employees are feeling and allow them to take the necessary next steps.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: When do you think that measuring happiness would cross the personal privacy dividing line?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As the person with the CIO job we are responsible for staying on top of all of the cool new technologies that are rapidly developing because of the importance of information technology. Although our firm may not use all of these technologies, they will be influenced by them and so we have become aware of what the new technologies can be used to accomplish. Two of the hottest new technologies that are currently being developed are artificial intelligence (AI) and self-driving cars. These technologies are linked together and how they evolve will have a big impact on the IT field going forward.