By Vicky Jain
New Delhi: As the work dynamic continues to evolve, one of the biggest challenges that have emerged for employers is to manage the mental health of employees. With the Covid-19 pandemic, mental issues have surged among employees as they try to adapt to the changing routines and work practices. A study by Oracle has revealed that nearly 84 per cent of employees have experienced more anxiety and/or stress at work than any year previously. While employers search for effective ways to deal with employee mental health and promote wellness, technology has emerged as a positive force enabling workers to access different tools and resources to burn off-steam, manage stress and opt for healthier choices.
A recent report by WTW showed that focus on well-being and health is a top priority for human resource managers, especially after the pandemic. Over the last one and a half years, it has become obvious to organisations that keeping employees healthy and safe should always be a prime focus of attention. The advent of new-age digital solutions has come as a big boon for companies helping them to consider every aspect of employee wellness, be it physical, emotional or mental in a more humane way.
How technology is improving mental health in organisations:
Automation of repetitive
It has been observed that unnecessary workload can increase the burden on workers eventually leading to stress and burnout. However, with AI tools increasingly becoming popular in organisations, automation of repetitive tasks is reducing the burden on employees. Automation of tasks like responding to emails, filling out reports and customer service is leaving room for employees to harness their skill set and intellect, decision-making and emotional intelligence.
Providing therapeutic value
Mental health AI chatbots are providing behavioural change and cognitive insights through cognitive behavioural techniques. Some AI applications are using sentiment analysis and natural language processing to interpret employees’ inputs and come up with personalised responses. These applications assess the moods and thoughts of employees by asking questions and help them reevaluate their thinking patterns. There are other AI applications being put to use by companies to track how an employee’s mood changes over a specified time. By conversing with the employees, these chabots can guide them to harvest positive emotions and thoughts.
Recognising emotion and stress
With new innovative gadgets like AI-based wearable tools, employers are quickly able to monitor and analyse employee emotions and behaviour. Developed with image and voice recognition, deep learning models and language processing capabilities, these applications can identify employees who are battling mental issues like depression and anxiety or facing issues with job tasks. The speech recognition and machine learning algorithms built into the applications helps recognise the speed and tone of the employees to track stress levels. These AI-based applications can also analyse the facial expressions of employees to track any signs of burnout and send messages to lower the stress levels.
Changing the environment
Research has shown that a quality workspace layout or design can lead to a more productive and less stressful atmosphere. That’s why employers of the modern age are increasingly looking to improve the office design by integrating AI to influence environmental conditions within the office like artificial lighting vs natural light, vegetation, natural air, etc. all of which can have a deep impact on employee’s mental health. With the help of automated sensors, an employee’s mood is assessed through emotion recognition sensors and accordingly it is determined whether adjusting the environmental conditions may enhance productivity and performance.
Evidence suggests that innovative technology is playing a crucial role in addressing mental health issues in organisations. Employers who wish to improve employee’s well-being can benefit immensely from the solutions available and identify suitable examples to incorporate the same into their broader wellness offerings and workplace support
(Vicky Jain, Founder, uKnowva, A 360-degree HR Automation Software)