30 Aug Wearing your emotions on your…employee badge? Measuring happiness with workplace wearables
American workers spend an average of 90,360 hours working over the course of their lifetime.  Workplace concepts and trends are constantly changing to adjust to employee lifestyles and promote workplace wellness (e.g., remote work arrangements, open offices, standing desks). Most employers are aware of the link between employee satisfaction and productivity and have a vested interest in making accommodations when feasible. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Labor Economics suggested that happier workers use their time more effectively. As a result, companies are now measuring how happy their employees are. For example, John Deere employees participate in a bi-weekly review process which uses a “happiness metric” (a single question) designed to identify potential issues so that they can be addressed before they affect well-being or performance. Other companies are turning to technology, incorporating “workplace wearables”, designed to collect data including movement, typing and time spent talking which have been shown to impact employee happiness. (you can read more about how the data is analyzed here: Workplace Wearables ) Hitachi and Bank of America are currently using this technology in the form of sensors attached to employee badges. At this time, no health information (such heart rate or blood pressure) is being recorded during the process, but some have speculated that this could be the next step.
This type of technology is still in the preliminary stages of development. While it is promising to see companies being proactive in seeking technologically advanced ways to address employee wellness, it is important to also take a step back to reflect on the basics. According to the Harvard Business Journal, there are three general things that people require to be engaged and happy at work:
- A meaningful vision of the future.
- A sense of purpose.
- Great relationships.
“If you want an engaged workforce pay attention to how you create a vision, link people’s work to your company’s larger purpose, and reward people who resonate with others.”
 U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics- 2015 results (2016) American Time Use Survey Summary.
Oswald, A.J., Proto, E., & Sgroi. (2014) Happiness and Productivity. Journal of Labor Economics. http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/eproto/workingpapers/happinessproductivity.pdf
 McKee, A. Being Happy at Work Matters (2014) Being Happy at Work Matters. Harvard Business Review.