A way for CEOs to put their finger on the pulse of their company?

A while back, Dubner blogged about this website, which tracks moods of the populace. It has some updated information on how Hurricane Katrina made people feel.

Wouldn’t it make sense for companies to build something like this into their internal networks? It would allow top managers to have up-to-the-minute information on the state of the employees’ mindset. Done anonymously, people could be honest. Not like the happy faces that they put on when they know the bosses are going to be making a live visit.


miss rogue

If you haven't already, you should really pick up The Cluetrain Manifesto (it's even free online at www.cluetrain.com). Searls, Weinberg, Locke et al have been talking about this since 99.

T.

StCheryl

While it makes sense to the rest of us for employers to do temperature checks on employees' moods, most employers don't care. They either don't understand the importance of morale, loyalty and longevity in the workforce, or don't want to feel forced to make decisions by committee. I have had many full- and part-time employers over the last 25 years, and only my current employer (a US subsidiary of a smallish Scandinavian company) takes the employee surveys seriously. That interest makes a big difference in people's willingness to put up with less than optimal working conditions.

Anonymous

Do employers really want to know how their employees feel? Suppose something bad is happening. Is it true or a disgruntled employee blowing smoke? Now that it's brought to their attention, are they legally required to investigate it? Don't ask don't tell is looking better!

Korgmeister

Likewise, I'd have to agree.

Most employers problem with "facile corporate happytalk" as the Cluetrain Manifesto puts it (would also reccomend, great book!) is that they don't think there's enough of it.

Besides, I suspect that even if such a system were put into practise, it would only cause the HR departments to begin a "Become Happier or Bad Things Will Happen To You" FUD-Flood.

Full Disclosure: Is a very cynical and disgruntled HR Graduate.

Jason Perdue

All we need is some clueless middle manager misinterpreting the information and trying to enact some misguided morale boosting exercise recommended by a mood generator when in fact all we really want is for this middle manager to shut the hell up. Also, a little back-stabbing cooler talk that isn't supposed to be heard by management is better for morale than trying to re-engineer an office just because people are unhappy working 40hrs+ a week.

Michael Giesbrecht

"Done anonymously, people could be honest."

Sure, but they'd have no greater incentive to honest, so why would they be? They may be incentivised to be dishonest in other ways, such as exagerating their unhappiness in order to get even better treatment from managers that care about such things.

Cheers,
Michael Giesbrecht

WeJamEcono

Back when I worked in Silicon Valley, we had an internal email/news system that most employees read. Since it was a computer company, we all had machines. One day we started a newsgroup called "bad-attitude". It was bourne of frustration of engineers who wanted a company to suceed and felt it was being stifled.

It was a wild success. From the initial days of engineers discussing where products should be built better or different, it moved into complaints about speed bumps and the caferteria food. Turns out the CEO read it every day, but middle managers didn't until they heard that the CEO did. It wasn't anonymous, so you could not say "joe smith is a cruddy manager!" unless you could back it up. People voiced opinions about the company and stood their ground. But it was a great way to gauge the soul of the company at the moment.

The company has come and gone, but the 'bad attitude' spread for awhile. Until HR people could not deal with the idea of dissent.

Read more...

chuck

The idea that my company cares about how I feel makes me laugh out loud!

Anonymous

A Wisdom of Crowds effect would do most firms good.

There would be ways for lower-runged employees to express ideas and opinions that are unsolicited by those on higher rungs, and it would also allow more information to flow around the management barriers.

Anonymous

This could be done right now by tracking keystroke speed and volume. While that's normally done for low level employees being paid to type, it can also be done for everybody else, too.

Once a baseline is establshed, senior managers would have a tool that quantifiably indicates lower productivity. Higher keystroke speed and volume might just mean employees are writing personal email at work, but much fewer keystrokes per hour, say, versus the baseline may indicate depression.

miss rogue

If you haven't already, you should really pick up The Cluetrain Manifesto (it's even free online at www.cluetrain.com). Searls, Weinberg, Locke et al have been talking about this since 99.

T.

StCheryl

While it makes sense to the rest of us for employers to do temperature checks on employees' moods, most employers don't care. They either don't understand the importance of morale, loyalty and longevity in the workforce, or don't want to feel forced to make decisions by committee. I have had many full- and part-time employers over the last 25 years, and only my current employer (a US subsidiary of a smallish Scandinavian company) takes the employee surveys seriously. That interest makes a big difference in people's willingness to put up with less than optimal working conditions.

Anonymous

Do employers really want to know how their employees feel? Suppose something bad is happening. Is it true or a disgruntled employee blowing smoke? Now that it's brought to their attention, are they legally required to investigate it? Don't ask don't tell is looking better!

Korgmeister

Likewise, I'd have to agree.

Most employers problem with "facile corporate happytalk" as the Cluetrain Manifesto puts it (would also reccomend, great book!) is that they don't think there's enough of it.

Besides, I suspect that even if such a system were put into practise, it would only cause the HR departments to begin a "Become Happier or Bad Things Will Happen To You" FUD-Flood.

Full Disclosure: Is a very cynical and disgruntled HR Graduate.

Jason Perdue

All we need is some clueless middle manager misinterpreting the information and trying to enact some misguided morale boosting exercise recommended by a mood generator when in fact all we really want is for this middle manager to shut the hell up. Also, a little back-stabbing cooler talk that isn't supposed to be heard by management is better for morale than trying to re-engineer an office just because people are unhappy working 40hrs+ a week.

Michael Giesbrecht

"Done anonymously, people could be honest."

Sure, but they'd have no greater incentive to honest, so why would they be? They may be incentivised to be dishonest in other ways, such as exagerating their unhappiness in order to get even better treatment from managers that care about such things.

Cheers,
Michael Giesbrecht

WeJamEcono

Back when I worked in Silicon Valley, we had an internal email/news system that most employees read. Since it was a computer company, we all had machines. One day we started a newsgroup called "bad-attitude". It was bourne of frustration of engineers who wanted a company to suceed and felt it was being stifled.

It was a wild success. From the initial days of engineers discussing where products should be built better or different, it moved into complaints about speed bumps and the caferteria food. Turns out the CEO read it every day, but middle managers didn't until they heard that the CEO did. It wasn't anonymous, so you could not say "joe smith is a cruddy manager!" unless you could back it up. People voiced opinions about the company and stood their ground. But it was a great way to gauge the soul of the company at the moment.

The company has come and gone, but the 'bad attitude' spread for awhile. Until HR people could not deal with the idea of dissent.

Read more...

chuck

The idea that my company cares about how I feel makes me laugh out loud!

Anonymous

A Wisdom of Crowds effect would do most firms good.

There would be ways for lower-runged employees to express ideas and opinions that are unsolicited by those on higher rungs, and it would also allow more information to flow around the management barriers.

Anonymous

This could be done right now by tracking keystroke speed and volume. While that's normally done for low level employees being paid to type, it can also be done for everybody else, too.

Once a baseline is establshed, senior managers would have a tool that quantifiably indicates lower productivity. Higher keystroke speed and volume might just mean employees are writing personal email at work, but much fewer keystrokes per hour, say, versus the baseline may indicate depression.