Does this ‘smart badge’ facilitate employee development?

by L&D09 Sep 2016
For many fitness fanatics, using a personal tracking device to accurately count their daily steps is crucial for their progress and performance.
 
So what if you applied a similar concept to boosting productivity in the workplace?
 
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a badge that simply hangs around your neck on a lanyard. It has two microphones which are able to do a real-time voice analysis.
 
The badge is then able to compile data on how conversations are conducted, the movement of employees, and stress patterns.
 
The results can then be used to discover what high-performing teams are doing differently from their low-performing counterparts.
 
The MIT graduates called their startup Humanyze. On their website they claim that their social sensing and analytics platform enables companies to "quantify social interactions that were previously unmeasurable”.

"This information can be leveraged to enhance teamwork and employee engagement, improve processes, and plan for growth," it said.
 
While it may sound like an intrusion on privacy, the microphones do not actually record what employees say and workers get a say in whether or not they wear it.
 
Moreover, the device cannot track your movements in bathrooms and the results do not include individual data for the manager.
 
The employer only gets to see the performance of the teams, however employees are allowed to access their own data.
 
Humanyze CEO Ben Waber gave a real example of how it works to The Washington Post, involving a bank that has hundreds of retail locations.
 
“Some perform really well. Some don't perform as well. The executives want to understand what the high-performing branches do differently,” he said.

“In turns out that in one company, the high-performing branches were very cohesive. The people who work in that branch talk a lot to each other.

"The people in the lowest performing branches almost never talk to each other. The company used Humanyze technology to identify that issue and also change how they pay people and how they organise the branches' management process. Top line sales grew by 11%."
 

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