COVID-19 is taking its toll on employee mental health. A series of detailed surveys throughout the pandemic from job site Monster.com have revealed some startling data: In July, 69% of remote workers reported experiencing burnout symptoms, a 35% increase from just two months prior. What’s more, 48% of workers didn’t feel their bosses were being supportive.
With happy employees directly linked to increased productivity, companies are taking note and scrambling to find solutions to monitor employee mood and sentiment amid an increasingly remote work environment.
Erudit, a startup led by CEO Alejandro Martínez Agenjo, is aiming to tackle this issue. The company has created an innovative sentiment analysis platform using artificial intelligence (AI) to mine the context of internal company communications to extract information on things like engagement and mood levels, allowing employers to identify potentially unhappy employees before it’s too late and they leave.
“It is clear for us that the future of people management is going to be led by companies like Erudit.” –Andrés Dancausa, VP for EMEA, TheVentureCity.
In a post introducing the product, Martínez Agenjo told the community of tech enthusiasts that, “As circumstances everywhere place a greater and greater strain on company culture and morale, Erudit is the tool that helps you improve understanding, empathy, and cooperation between teams.”
In a press statement from TheVentureCity – the venture accelerator to which Erudit received funding – Vice President for EMEA Andrés Dancausa said, “Erudit is a truly unique addition to our team. They are a company with a very clear social and humanitarian vein. They are leveraging tech including AI, NLP to help managers in large corporations stay even more connected to their employees. It is clear for us that the future of people management is going to be led by companies like Erudit.”
Erudit, of course, isn’t the first employee mood tracking technology, and COVID-19 isn’t the only reason employers are tracking employee sentiment.
Accenture reported in 2019 that 62% of C-level executives said their organizations were using new technologies to collect data on their people and their work to “gain actionable insights,” and that same year Gartner predicted that 80% of companies will be using a range of tools and data sources to monitor employees by 2020. It is probable that COVID-19 will accelerate the use of these tools among organizations.
The HR industry has been shifting toward AI and data analytics to monitor employees for quite some time. Companies such as Humanyze use AI to objectively quantify and communicate organizational health, and companies like Lattice use digital surveys for employee feedback. And MIT Sloan professor Andrew Lo famously “strapped wristwatch sensors that measure pulse and perspiration on 57 stock and bond traders to monitor their reactions in a simulated trading environment.”
Of course, data collection on employees has been critiqued by advocacy groups, and employers are wary that misunderstandings about surveillance can erode trust between employees. Accenture reported that trust is damaged if data is mishandled, according to Harvard Business Review.
For its part, Erudit’s website indicates that the company is SOC 2 and GDPR certified, providing for increased levels of data security. The company also advocates that its workforce analytics tools are made to empower employers and HR leaders to be more empathetic and tailored in their approach, allowing them to support remote workers and preserve company culture.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to accelerate the digital transformation of organizations, new and innovative use cases for AI in human resources will continue to sprout up.
Disclosure: This article mentions a client of an Espacio portfolio company.