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A wristband has been developed to help employees let their employer know how they are feeling during the working day. Is this technology necessary and does it replace traditional methods of checking in with staff?

Before the Covid-19 pandemic the World Health Organisation estimated that depression and anxiety cost the global economy £760bm per year in lost productivity. Over the course of the last 12 months 60% of adults in the UK said that they felt their mental health had declined and there was a suggestion that small and medium sized companies could be doing more to support their employees.

The gadget, named Moonbeam, which looks like a standard fitness tracker, links to an app and requires wearers to press a yellow button if they are happy and a blue button if they feel sad. Employers can then view this data online to see how their staff are feeling. With many people currently working remotely is this a way for employers to check in with their staff and does it mean there is no need for regular calls?

The idea is that the technology streamlines the process of checking in with staff and allows employers to quickly see who is struggling and then have a conversation as to how help can be given. Trials have also shown that individuals who would not usually express concerns regarding their workload or stress have used the device to let their employer know that they need support.

With working from home likely to continue for some time companies have been looking into ways to connect with employees. In addition to the now traditional Zoom quiz some firms have developed interactive digital offices which replicate the bricks and mortar to help employees feel as though they are in the office environment. Microsoft is also looking to create a virtual commute on Teams, as studies have shown that without the usual commute to and from work employees are finding it difficult to transition between their working life and home life.

While technology is assisting employees who are working from home in innovative ways this does not replace a simple telephone (or video) call to ask how someone is feeling. Emma Mamo of Mind says that “those who prioritise staff wellbeing are more likely to report more productive staff, who are less likely to need time off sick or leave… altogether”.

Employers are encouraged to continue to use technology in a way that benefits both their business and the wellbeing of employees but not to forget the importance of speaking to employees and colleagues. Regular and open communication is key in order to prevent employees feeling disillusioned and isolated which can then impact mental health and performance.

If you need any guidance on mental health in the workplace or how to manage conversations about mental health and support please contact our Employment team using the form below or calling 0191 281 6151.

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