Happiness Police, Chatbots and Burnout Monitors: The Future of Retaining Staff

Happiness police, real-time chatbots for employees and burnout monitors are just some of the applications that have been developed to ensure that staff are healthy and fulfilled, so as to enhance productivity and quality of life.

These shifts in the way human resources (HR) practitioners reimagine the world of work result from rapid changes emanating from artificial intelligence and robotics.

Delegates at the Future of HR summit held in Johannesburg on Wednesday were told of how companies have been forced to rethink strategies for hiring, along with retention practices.

Digital transformation and innovation in talent acquisition had become a mandatory requirement for successful businesses, according to specialists in the sector.

Enriched human experience

Approaches that enrich the human experience among workers were lauded as being at the core of a new way of managing staff. However, there was an acknowledgement that technology could only supplement and not replace people.

Various HR and industrial relations experts sought to discourage fear-mongering about the impact of the fourth industrial revolution, saying artificial intelligence could be used in building resilient human resources and workforces.

Companies such as Deloitte, SAP and Accenture showcased some of the new technologies they have acquired to detect when employees are pushing themselves too hard, are fatigued or unhappy, or when staff are in need of further learning and training.

SAP SA digital expert Paige dos Santos told Business Day that from a local perspective, the idea of being able to work for an organisation that puts purpose ahead of profit still rang true.

The idea that employees could leave their life pressures at home when entering workspaces was flawed, and employers needed to find more ways of enhancing wellness in both spaces for workers to truly be at their best.

SAP SA senior sales executive Wendy Maduna said during a panel discussion that employers have had to reassess their offerings in order to retain staff.

Citing her 12 years’ experience in public service recruitment, she said the government was still lagging in attracting and retaining talent.

“Five years ago there was a huge drive into getting private HR directors into public sector organisations. They tried to attract the talent, but also lost it in a short space of time due to lack of automation solutions,” said Maduna. “In order to retain, they need to look at processes and solutions available in the private sector and deploy these in government organisations.”

Companies were advised to comply with local regulations when employing freelancers and contractors, with experts saying the trend of employing independent contractors was gaining momentum locally.

Dos Santos said employers were becoming more flexible on employees’ working hours and individual preferences.

This article first appeared in Business Day.