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« Discussion Boards: Win-Win for Instructors and Students? | Main | A Role for Organization Psychologists in Disaster Response Efforts »

November 09, 2012


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Hi Carrie,

Thanks for the reply. I wonder if knowing the day-to-day mood changes of employees is worth anything to supervisors. Foremost, supervisors are traditionally poor at being therapists and handling the fluctuation of subordinates' daily interferences.

It is tough to extract sarcasm; plus, it is impossible to determine tone and infliction in emails. Perhaps these can be mitigated in data collection.

As for research, I think it is a great idea. Perhaps something will come of it later.


Hi Josh,
You make some great points about the limitations and challenges in this approach. Any method of data gathering has limitations, though, so we just need to study it and identify what they are. Then later we can consider the results of this new method of data gathering in context with other source of information, like we do today with many methods in I-O and HRM.
You asked; “what is your opinion of organizational use to electronically monitor employee well-being?” If it could be done in an ethical and legal way, then I can imagine many great uses. What if an algorithm was developed that monitored employees’ “mood” or “attitude” (as expressed in communications) over time. Then imagine that research studies revealed that the results correlated well with future performance as documented in standard performance management methods that we use and trust today. If that were true, then electronic communication monitoring may have an advantage to predict future performance and allow for intervention sooner (training, greater supervisor involvement/support, etc.). Much like how statistical process control works in quality monitoring in manufacturing, ongoing monitoring relative to normal baselines may help supervisors to know when something is an abberations (a bad day for example) vs. a statistically significant trend that needs attention. Supervisors could be alerted if an employee is trending up or down from their normal baseline attitude- automatically by the software.
I know many people think this is too “big brother”, it seems likely to me that in 1-2 generations people will no longer view constant monitoring with the negativity and fear that they do today. We are just not used to it yet. When the kids who have less need for privacy of today become the bosses of tomorrow, they are not going to view this type of monitoring in the same way that management today sees it.

Just knowing that your communication was being monitored for emotion might cause you to 1. Fake happiness (most people who value their jobs would do this) 2. Avoid all emotionally revealing language or 3. Intentionally load your language with negativity (the disgruntled rebels).
Have you heard of "smile and move " initiatives? I think squelching negativity has positive effects even if it's not sincerely embraced by all.If the disgruntled few are encouraged to communicate professionally and to focus on solutions then all benefit. I'm interested in the impact of the "toxic "coworker on morale versus the "pollyanna ".

Part of the problem will be limited to those who use the technology and the segment of that population that express pleasure or displeasure with some organizational issue(s). I wonder if too much reliance on a sample of the organization would sway management to implement strategies when there is not a problem to begin with. This also assumes that management finds improving well-being to provide positive ROI.

What is your opinion of organizational use to electronically monitor employee well-being?

Thanks for the post.


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