A new trend is sweeping across businesses: monitoring employee happiness. How so? The Wall Street Journal reported that companies are monitoring how employees feel by deploying software to track Slack conversations for emotions like depression and fatigue. Other companies ask employees to complete daily surveys or deploy apps asking them to share how they're feeling via emoticons.
The Journal also notes that Chicago-based accounting and consulting firm Grant Thornton commented on deploying laptop cameras to scan workers' faces for subtle changes in moods. The managing director of its central region, Nichole Jordan, was quoted advocating that the firm, with employee consent, should program employees' computers to urge those who appear stressed, distracted, or bored to take a walk or get a cup of coffee.
In my opinion, if I were an employer or service provider, I would run as far away as humanly possible from a company that did this. Is it not bad enough that such firms pressure people to compete for billable hours to get ahead? Do they also have to force them to "volunteer" to let their laptops film their faces to make sure they're happy about it?
Employers who monitor their employees' facial expressions, electronic communications, and emotional states may believe that this HR trend will help them attract and keep the best employees. Such employers are trying to reduce employee turnover by keeping their people so happy that they will want to stay.
What these companies apparently fail to see is that their turnover is likely caused by deep cultural problems. Their implicit mental model is that people will be happy to work in a place that tracks every word they type and every fleeting facial expression they make.
1. Create a culture of growth.
Culture is what people do when the boss is not in the room. If you want growth, you should make your company a place where your people will be excited about making life better for your customers.
The starting point for doing that is to make sure your people know that listening to customers and giving them great solutions to their most pressing future needs is the company's reason for being.
2. Hire people who fit the culture.
Obviously, just saying those phrases will not make it real. A critical first step is hiring people who will deeply embrace these values. One simple way to do that is to start your interviews with potential employees by asking them what company culture would excite and engage them. If the candidates you hire have fire in the belly for your company's values, then you should send them to the next round to see if they have the skills you need.
3. Hold people accountable.
Of course, your company wants to grow, but your people are not all in sales, so you can't hold everyone accountable for hitting sales targets. Hold other employees to measurable standards as well.
People in customer service should be held accountable for high customer retention rates and a high willingness to recommend your company to others. Product developers should be tasked with building products that your new and existing customers are eager to purchase. Give people clear goals to work toward.
4. Coordinate processes across different functions.
Encourage different functions to work together to achieve what's in the best interests of the entire company. If you urge different functions to cooperate and resolve their differences, your employees will be more motivated and productive and your customers will be happier.
Instead of monitoring employee happiness, do these four things. Your company will be much better off.