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Addressing Struggle for Success – Tech Aided Feedback

01 March 2021 | Updated 19 April 2021

With organisations looking to find ways of keeping better track of employee mental health, Moodbeam hopes to improve the reporting and analysis of wellbeing on tasks company wide.


"Businesses are trying to get on top of staying connected with staff working from home. Here they can ask 500 members – are you okay? Without picking up the phone."


– Christina Colmer McHugh
Co-founder, Moodbeam


With the PM’s roadmap to reopening social environments just announced, many will be looking hopefully forward with the prospect of returning to offices or their workplace. Others on the other hand, may be happy to continue remote operations from home. Some will be required to do either, in opposition to their desire.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for organisations to cultivate good mental health in order to foster productivity, retain employees and attract talent – however it has also presented the obstacle of personal, physical disconnect between people, in a way that can cultivate the growth of issues, including a lack of comfort to be forthcoming and honest about emotional struggles. This has always been a concern with social media as people attempt to showcase highlights of their lives and exhibit the best version of theirselves, which largely translates to work forums where the general consensus is to bring positive, constructive and successful atmosphere.

These qualities naturally arise when management and staff have a caring and personal relationship. In our article Nurturing the Hybrid Work Teams of Today we looked at the unique challenges of maintaining these genuine connections in a workforce that is physically split apart. “Leaders need to establish a new management framework to marry with the changes to workplaces or else they risk losing momentum as workers return. As we return to the office we must not return to an us and them world. It is a time for re-invention, co-creation and leadership. Return to the past or move forward to a connected cohesive future, the choice is clear.”


Moodbeam for Business


As Stephen Peal touched on in his recent spotlight interview as a newly qualified Mental Health First Aider, people are more productive if they are happy. In the interest of enhancing the ease of feedback and using the data to better delegate responsibilities, MoodBeam have developed a full package solution for monitoring the wellbeing of employees and making assessments based on that. Although their physical device appears like a wristband, it can also be attached to clothing or a lanyard for easy access. The two button construction simplifies reactions into a positive or negative experience. It’s connected to a mobile phone app that gives the user prompts for logging their feelings regularly throughout the day. As stated on their website, “this isn’t a once a year survey, it is everyday organisational self-awareness.”

This is particularly convenient for larger corporations that are trying to collate information on performance across multiple teams and locations. "Businesses are trying to get on top of staying connected with staff working from home. Here they can ask 500 members – are you okay? Without picking up the phone," says Moodbeam co-founder Christina Colmer McHugh to the BBC.

However, that might not be enough to convince people to be honest with their feelings. Where transparent conversation with team members, or leaders, that seem to show genuine empathy and consideration for your feelings about work may provoke confessions, pressing a button is not so coaxing of honesty. If users don’t feel comfortable to announce their discomfort, the whole system ceases to function as planned. It's easy to imagine more advanced technology that wouldn't require the voluntary part of this scheme to observe emotions, just like the sort of bossware that takes screenshots, monitors URL activity and the other computer usage statistics to track performance. The ethical concerns of this does however seem rather contradictory when trying to ensure employees are comfortably completing tasks.


Awareness of Issues is the Key


According to the BBC’s research however, there is definitely potential for the concept’s success. Ms Colmer McHugh, whose firm is based in Hull, said that her team have been receptive of the idea. "We moved away from anonymous to identifiable data after trials found that people do want to be identified," she says. Yet it is of course difficult to truly measure whether people are using such a service truthfully. UK charity Brave Mind have rolled out Moodbeam within their organisation. “One member of the team was in an uncomfortable place, struggling with a huge workload, and disillusioned with what was going on," says trustee Paddy Burtt. "It's not something he would have flagged up, and we wouldn't have known about it unless we had seen the data.”

Although the dependent variable in that example is still honesty, it certainly illustrates how vital it is that we are aware when members of any unit are struggling – something can then be done before reparations become more difficult. Tools like those that Moodbeam offer provide a surveillance option for managing diverse and expansive organisations, but on its own lacks the human element that is very important when dealing with mental health. Using smart technology as a support when investing quality time into team conversations could be very beneficial.

If you're interested in becoming a Mental Health First Aider or want to propose the training for your own organisation, please see our spotlight interview with Stephen Peal and follow the link at the end of the article.

Picture: a stressed employee with their head on a desk.

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 01 March 2021


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