Microsoft Cares About its Employees as it has Patented an Employee “Well-being” System
Microsoft’s wellness insights service cares about employee well-being
Employee well-being and health are some corporate aspects that leading companies are paying attention to. With a sudden shift to remote working, employees are stressed managing a work-life balance at home. Hence, companies are planning initiatives that solely focus on employee well-being and health. One such initiative is by Microsoft that has patented an employee “wellbeing” recommendation feature.
In its patent – Emotion Detection From Contextual Signals For Surfacing Wellness Insights, the company proposes a wellness insights service that gathers biometric data from a variety of wearables, such as digital assistants, fitness trackers, and smartwatches.
Data obtained from such wearables such as heart rate monitoring or blood pressure can help understand an employee’s stress while working. An anxiety score is created using biometric data sources and data from Microsoft’s Office apps. The anxiety score is created on aspects such as haptic sensor feedback signaling how hard keyboard keys are pressed, audio and video meeting data, how much amount is taken to draft an email, etc.
If the system detects that the anxiety level of an employee is more than a determined threshold, the wellness insight service will push out a wellness insight alert along with suggested remedies like taking a break or a walk to return to the normal style of working.
Moreover, the wellness insight service might include NLP models to define language inputs into happy, angry, sad, and many other moods. Subramanian Ramakrishnan, principal group engineering manager at Microsoft opines that it is crucial as well as common that companies are taking initiatives that are protecting employee well-being and health.
He furthers adds that such initiatives hold importance as it helps in retaining talent. Not to forget the output of happy employees ensures value-addition. According to Subramanian, email-related anxiety is a growing concern with employees spending the majority of their time on emails as it is the primary mode of communication at workplaces. It’s important to tackle email-related anxiety as it can harm productivity and health.
This is not the first time that Microsoft has deployed tools and systems for employee well-being and health. To effectively manage the stress of employees it introduced a new capability in Microsoft Outlook calendars that enables to set meetings to finish early or start late that forestalls back-to-back meetings piling up.
Companies are also realizing that focusing on employee well-being can help them to save huge costs. Johnson & Johnson’s wellness programs saved them $250 million on healthcare costs of employees.
Implementing employee well-being programs help in creating a win-win situation for companies and employees. Let’s also not forget that the war to retain the best talent is quite intense out there. High-quality candidates have a lot of options to choose from when applying for a new job or making a career switch.
Providing employee well-being benefits is an attractive way to retain employees as well as attract them. All this creates a positive culture and enhances employee productivity. Companies are finally acknowledging that employee well-being programs can help in transforming the workplace, reduce costs related to absenteeism, and create a healthy and sound company.
In future, we can expect more companies to take initiatives like Microsoft to boost employee well-being and morale. The Covid-19 outbreak has emphasized more on mental well-being. Along with health, mental well-being is also crucial and shouldn’t be neglected. Such initiatives will help companies have more understanding and empathy in the future.