This Slaphappy World of Work

“A tired mind become a shape-shifter
Everybody need a mood lifter
Everybody need reverse polarity
Everybody got mixed feelings
About the function and the form
Everybody got to deviate from the norm…”

— Rush, “Vital Signs”

On my flight to the third annual Candidate Experience Awards and the first-ever Candidate Experience Symposium, I fell asleep.

And I sort of daydreamed…

It was the year 2030. A new world of work startup called SlapHappy had developed a dramatic new biometric nanotechnology, taking sentiment analysis, work/life integration and employee engagement to an unprecedented place.

The early adopters were few, and while the rest of the world cried out how unethical it and downright crazy it was, the results were astounding. Two extremely powerful computers, the sizes of poppy seeds, were injected into the new employees and contractors of each participating company. Of course, if the interested candidates refused to be injected, then they would be rejected and not hired.

One tiny computer was injected into the frontal lobes and the other into the bloodstream. Billions of cellular and synaptic transactions were measured every minute while highly sophisticated algorithms analyzed the data and generated continuous feedback on how the individuals were feeling about work.

But it didn’t stop there – the data stream was 24/7, ensuring that every second of every day was aggregated and analyzed – to see how the individuals felt about anything and everything.

The caveat was in the what. Meaning, the technology didn’t “mind read,” so there was no way to know specifically what each person was thinking, or if they were seriously ill, but it did give individuals valuable “wellness” information as to how their daily life affected their overall health and mental wellbeing, especially at work.

And for the companies (and even some government entities) participating, well, they could use this data combined with many other skills and competency assessments and qualitative surveys as a litmus test to whether or not they had the right people in the right place at the right time.

In fact, that was part of their tagline: SlapHappy with the Right Transparency in the Right Place at the Right Time.

The complete reports generated with this technology dramatically changed the way companies and employees alike treated each other and developed themselves (and lived their lives), but the core visualization of over “health” included only three simple emoticons:

  • Smiley Face
  • Frowny Face
  • Zombie Face

These emoticons appeared for the participants anywhere they went via their virtual laptops, mobile devices and wearable technology (glasses, watches, etc.). Yes, they were easy to share with the world as well, and many of them were. Participants always new how they felt; their companies always knew how they felt. All parties developed a greater parity with business outcomes (and rewards) because of this intimate real-time feedback.

Companies using SlapHappy also had to agree to appear in their 24/7 SlapHappy Index for all the world to see where they stood at any given time, including attrition rates, innovation rates, revenue rates and more.

Were they a happy place to work? An unhappy place? A place where only the dead walked the hallways?

I awoke from my daydream thinking, “Holy crap.”

Is this the future of ultimate engagement and the ROI of workplace transparency? Will this be how we live, thrive or perish?

No one knows. Yet. But as Kim Peters, CEO of Great Rated!, a company that gives job seekers the inside scoop on companies and their cultures so they can find their best fit, told us on the TalentCulture #TChat Show, companies that want to be the employer of choice, that want to be one of the great places to work for, they need to be willing to take that leap of faith to see just exactly how their own employees feel about working for them and how that in turn affects their recruitment efforts. And the workforce in its entirety must share in that elevating and sometimes debilitating risk.

But when they do, the results can be dramatic:

  • Independent financial analysts regularly study the financial performance of “100 Best” companies. Analysis shows publicly traded 100 Best Companies consistently outperform major stock indices by a factor of 2.
  • Scripps Health, a Great Place to Work® client, faced operating losses, high turnover, and labor shortages. Leaders turned their focus to building a great workplace. In the time since, they drastically improved their financial performance, turnover rates, and employee morale, increasing annual profits by over 1200%.
  • Best Companies typically experience as much as 65% less voluntary turnover than their competitors, saving money in employee recruitment and training.

So, in order to empower this slaphappy world of work, you’ve got to:

  1. Enable X-Ray Vision. If you’re of a certain age, you may remember reading comic books and seeing advertisements for X-ray vision glasses, giving you the ability to see through, well, anything. That fantasy of old is a reality today for employers, employees and candidates alike, with social media and world of work review sites giving anyone the ability to “see through” company walls as much as they can see into candidates’ backgrounds. You want the right people in the right place at the right time, so give them the X-ray vision and help them self-select.
  2. But Kill the CGI. Special effects today are mesmerizing. You can create creatures and landscapes with high-definition clarity that look so real you can sometimes no longer tell the difference. We can literally control the weather of any moment in time (or out of time) with computers, servers and lots of smart code. But in real life, the breakdown to attract and keep talent occurs because we continuously market and sell each other blue sky, when all the while the true storm clouds brew and burst at a moment’s notice, grounding trust’s feeble flight. Both employers and employees take note: we will never be able to control the weather. Ever.

Love it or leave it, how we feel about what we do and where we do it is only going to proliferate further online, deviating thankfully from the norm and shining bright spots upon the world of work.

Hey, I’ll show you my emoticon if you show me yours.

photo credit: Dru! via photopin cc