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Smart employee ID badges can now predict performance

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Have you ever wondered who your employees talk to in the office? How much time they actually spend away from their desk? Or how they physically react to stress? Soon, your employee’s ID badge could give you all the answers.

Where currently most ID badges simply contain technology to allow its carrier access to a certain building or floor, the badge has much more potential. By adding additional sensors, employers can collect data on their employees’ movements, physical state, and even voice patterns.

The idea behind the technology stems from previous research that showed that behavioural data could predict workplace performance much better than survey or email data.

“Within three or four years, every single ID badge is going to have these sensors”, Ben Waber, CEO of employee analytics company Humanyze told The Washington Post. The company used technology originally developed at MIT to produce smart ID badges that they think will help companies make better business decisions by helping to predict performance.

The badges contain two microphones doing real-time voice analysis, as well as location sensors and motion detectors. The latter don’t operate within bathroom areas, to provide some privacy.

Despite the potential benefits for the employer, Links International COO Scott Thomson doesn’t see the technology taking off in Asia anytime soon.

“There is absolutely no chance that these conversation recording badges will take off in mainstream office environments in Asia in the next four years”, Thomson told Human Resources magazine in an email. “Typical office-based employers already have a lot of data available to them that they can make use of and that is easier to analyse than voice and less intrusive than recording conversations”.

Although the company says the badges don’t record the content of employees’ conversations, Thomson points toward the large number of recent high profile data leaks and the risk and responsibility that comes with collecting any kind of personal information. In addition, he envisions telling employees they want to track their every move and conversation isn’t going to help companies retain staff.

The Links International COO does recognise there is value in data collection, but thinks it will take a slightly less intrusive form. “Email analysis will be the big area of focus in the next four years in offices in Asia, as most companies in Asia are still yet to make use of this information”, he predicts.

If you’re looking to track and enhance your employees’ performance but think following their every move is a step too far, you could always opt for the more traditional technique of simply talking to your staff.

ALSO READ: The Futurist: Abbott on how big data can transform HR’s power dynamic

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