Indian company straps wearables on employees to track happiness and health

Would you upload your sleep schedule to your company computer? 

Mar 1, 2020, 7:21 pm*

Tech

Mike Wehner 

Mike Wehner

As long as you show up on time, don’t slack off, and follow the rules, most employers don’t really care if you’re in a good mood when you head home for the day. Happiest Minds—an IT services company in India—isn’t like most employers. The company takes the happiness of their employees so seriously that they’ve outfitted roughly half of their 1,250 employees with a gadget that tracks everything they do, and it’s only half as creepy as it sounds.

The device is an activity tracker that keeps tabs on everything from steps walked to hours of sleep, and all that data is fed into a system that keeps an eye on patterns and allows each employee to monitor their own progress. Anyone with a tracker equipped is pushed to log at least 10,000 steps per day, which benefits both the body and the mind.

The company puts an emphasis on physical activity and uses the trackers to hold virtual fitness competitions, including a 1,200+ mile trek from Bangalore to Mumbai. Progress was integrated with Google Maps, so employees could see exactly where they were on the virtual marathon course.

It may seem like a purely noble effort to make people healthier and, by extension, happier, but Happiest Minds is getting something out of the deal as well. According to the CDC, healthier employees help a company’s bottom line as well. Data shows that overweight and unhealthy workers miss significantly more days of work than those who fall within the healthy range, which means more productivity and less hassle. It’s a win-win.

Encouraging employees to stay healthy isn’t unique in office scenarios, though taking the added step of providing wearables out of the company’s own pocket is a step that most businesses never bother to take. Making fitness trackers an enterprise accessory is something that might make a big difference in people’s lives, but there’s no guarantee it would be universally accepted in other countries.

A digital device that not only monitors your activity, but also logs your sleep schedule and then uploads that data to a computer system at your place of employment sounds like a recipe for outcry in the hypersensitive privacy landscapes of the United States and Europe.

Western culture keeps employers at arm’s length. Uploading your sleep schedule to the company computer—even if it’s simply for a health-minded virtual marathon—is likely to be seen as a 1984-esque “Big Brother” scenario rather than an honest attempt at getting employees on the right track for long-term health. 

H/T InformationWeek | Photo via Antony_Mayfield / Flickr (CC 2.0)

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*First Published: Oct 15, 2014, 11:00 am