Forget employee fitness logging. Mood tracking is the latest HR tech trend

This article originally appeared on Employee Benefit News

There are wellness platforms and apps that help employees record food intake, track their daily steps or manage their fluctuations in weight. Now, technology company meQuilibrium is taking the same concept and applying it to emotional well-being.

The company’s new mood tracker and forthcoming chatbot platforms allow employees to log their daily states of mind to help reduce stress — which in turn helps employers create a more resilient workforce, says Andrew Shatte, meQuilibrium’s chief science officer. Work has become more demanding, he says, and it can be helpful to have tools that assist with managing stress during the day.

“Stress doesn’t end at five or six o’clock,” Shatte says. “People are expected to be available basically 24/7, and that’s adding a degree of complexity into to the mix.”

Reducing stress and improving quality of life are top concerns for employers, and many are investing in programs that can help improve worker well-being. This extends beyond physical health. Research from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health indicate that 92% of employers are expanding their well-being platforms to include emotional health programs.

meQuilibrium’s mood tracker allows employees to record their daily moods by logging their motivation, stress level and focus on a sliding scale on their smartphone, says Neal Bruce, senior vice president of product strategy at meQuilibrium.

Based on an employee’s response, the chatbot will engage the user in conversation depending on the type of emotions they are recording. If an employee submits a response that indicates they are highly stressed, for example, chatbot may lead them through a short activity like a breathing exercise. The chatbot has not yet been released and will be available in the coming months.

meQuilibrium sends a general report to the company’s senior executives about the overall mood of the workforce, but individual responses are not provided in accordance to HIPAA rules. “We conduct quarterly business reviews with our customers’ HR and business leaders and review aggregated reports during those meetings,” Bruce says.

The mood tracker and chatbot platforms are included in the three systems that meQuilibrium already offers: meQ Engage, meQ Gateway and meQ Empower. They are offered at no additional fee and in total, Bruce says, everything generally costs a dollar or two per employee per month.

Employees can access meQuilibrium’s mood tracker and chatbot tools through an Android or IOS mobile app or a web platform, Bruce says, and they can also set reminders on the app that will prompt them to record their mood. Bruce has a reminder to record his own responses every day at noon.

“I will check in with how I’m feeling and then chatbot will give me a quick skill to work on,” he says.

Employers also can integrate their employee assistance program with the platform, Bruce says. This way, for example, if an employee is feeling ill, the bot can direct them to services the company offers that can help, like an on-site clinic or an employee assistance hotline.

meQuilibrium did not provide information about which employers were using Mood Tracker, although in the past the company has partnered with Wellesley College and WebMD Health Services.

“It encourages employee engagement,” Bruce says. “It helps both people who are having good days and are having bad days.”

Mood Tracker can also help managers and company executives gauge how their team is feeling, says Jan Bruce, CEO of meQuilibrium and no relation to Neal Bruce. Managers can use the tool to get a general sense of their employee’s moods and what kinds of team building exercises might help to improve them overtime, she says.

Understanding how employees are feeling, she says, can help them be more productive. “What we find is knowledge, becoming in touch with our thoughts, has this very strangely positive way of making the problem not seem so big,” she says.