Employers are in uncharted terrains; The arrival of COVID19 caused global disruption on how organisations typically functioned as they were forced to setup (almost overnight) a complete remote virtual workforce in order to continue operations. Organisations that already allowed flexible work-from-home options to their employees were quick to adopt to this change but many traditional organisations who were accustomed to a physically present workforce; struggled to cope with the change.
IT was initially a massive bottleneck that organisations had to revamp to deal with remote employees but thanks to scalable cloud computing and corporate IT solutions offered by the likes of Microsoft, Google and AWS — many organisations were able to transform and adapt.
But there is another area that is now growing to be a large concern to many organisations; and that is Employee Wellness.
The “Traditional” Employee Wellness Approach
Typically, Employers were able to informally get an idea on how their employees were coping in the work environment as all staff were (mostly) physically present in the same office building. For example, managers were able to notice if a team member was having issues (either professionally or personally) and colleagues were able to notice concerning trends in their work mates behaviours thanks to their regular day to day interactions.
Most companies also ran internal social activities and work/life balance programs that aimed to provider employees with options to balance their work and personal life. These internal (often on-premise activities) also provided a valuable “check-point” for Human Resources (HR) teams to view and understand the “pulse” of their workforce. Organisations also had standard and formal Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to provide counselling or support for employees who needed them and most also had tie-ups with corporate wellness organisations who would run on-premise wellbeing, fitness and education seminars and programs.
But it seems that most of these existing corporate solutions around employee wellness, assistance and support were not built with a remote and virtual employee workforce in mind. They are built around the traditional concepts of physically-present employee workforces and their shortcomings are now more apparent as we are in the midst of a complete paradigm shift on what physical vs virtual employee workforces mean to a organisation’s operating strategy.
Existing Employee Wellness Concepts don’t work for Remote Workforces
When an employee is working from home or virtually, we no longer “see them” or understand how they are tracking. The daily informal manager and work-mate check-ins described above are no longer as easy or regular. Most employees would love to work-from-home, but after the novelty wares off there are many more new challenges and issues around mental health, physical health (caused due to bad home office setups or not taking any breaks etc.) and personal and team productivity issues that can sneak up on you. Even a simple task like clocking off at 5.30PM and heading home is now blurred as they start finding it hard to switch off their work lives given they are sitting in a home environment.
Employers are also not equipped to deal with this change in employee wellbeing and the existing corporate wellbeing programs they have subscribed to and rely on are not providing the answers as they are too large to pivot their methodologies or are struggling to rethink their approach to remote employee workforces.
Employee Wellbeing for the “New Normal”
We wanted to change this and challenge the concept of traditional corporate employee wellbeing and we feel this change cannot come at a better time. We see traditional employee wellbeing programs run by the HR teams of organisations mostly outdated and only equipped to provide an employer with some benefits when employees are physically present in an office building.
We need a new system to deliver corporate employee wellbeing that brings engagement and value to employers AND employees. A new system that functions equally well remotely or physically and can adopt to the new age we are heading into. Some are calling this new age the new normal and we created OKPulse to be the Employee Wellbeing solution for the new normal.
We started off with two broad goals:
- We wanted to re-imagine employee wellness for the digital age with a focus on providing equal value for both employee and employers
- We wanted to build a solution that was data-driven and easy to use. Collecting multiple data points to provide valuable health and wellness insights to employers and employees
We then expanded these goals into the following practical features that come together to form the OKPulse platform.
1) Employer and Employee Wellness Portals
OKPulse provides two types of user portals.
- Allows employers to provision multiple employee wellness programs for their teams and departments (A new program can be deployed with just 1-click)
- Manage all their employee user accounts
- Generate curated education content to be delivered to their employees virtually
- View anonymous data reports (data collected cannot be traced to an individual, instead it is viewable at team or department levels)
- View highly useful team wellness summary reports that provide actionable insights to managers and HR teams
- Enable reward points for employees who are highly engaged in the program. These reward points can then be swapped to gift cards by employees
This is the main point of differentiation for OKPulse. Almost none of the existing corporate wellness solutions offer employee portals (In my personal corporate career where I’ve worked in more than 6 companies, I’ve never been offered access to an employee health and wellness portal). Existing solutions are focused around giving value only to employers and this is something we wanted to change.
- All employees get access to a free and secure portal where they can see their personal wellness progress on OKPulse
- View curated education provided by their employers and redeem reward points for their engagement in the corporate wellness program
2) Data Driven, A.I Powered Insights
We built OKPulse to be a user data driven solution to corporate employee wellness. To protect personal employee user data; we collect anonymous data points that cannot be traced back to a specific employee, instead employers and team managers can view insights for their teams and if necessary reach out to their reports during one-on-ones to identify and assist individuals who may be having issues.
OKPulse collects more than 50 individual data points (with many more coming soon) and then uses these data points to plot employee wellness insights using our proprietary A.I driven ontology model. Our AI powered insights have two core proprietary components we developed:
The AI Powered, Ontology-Driven classification model detects and scores mental wellness on the following “Signals”
Stress, Anxiety, Loneliness, Tech Stress, Physical Wellness, Work/Life Balance, Self Assurance, Work Acceptance, Leadership Support, Team Support
The AI Powered, signal-biased sentiment model that detects positive, negative, neutral, mixed sentiment in a user’s written text or speech. The model can also detect phrases linked to medical ontologies such as ICD-10-CM.
Actionable Wellness Reports
All employee wellness progress data is surfaced as easy to digest and actionable wellness reports that highlight key focus areas for improvement. Wellness reports are produced for all teams and departments and provide team leaders the insights needed to reach out to their team members.
Speed to Market — Thanks to the Itheum Platform
We wanted to reimagine and build the employee wellness solution for the new normal and we wanted to take this to market as quick as possible so we can help organisations in the midst of the chaos of COVID19. As such, speed to market was very important for us. OkPulse is an application build on the Itheum Platform which is a user data collection and analytics platform that enables the creation of data driven applications and programs built using rich user data.
The Itheum platform enables:
- The seamless scheduling of data collection (e.g. collect on Monday at 9AM or on weekdays at 4PM etc.)
- Customised data type collection (creation of custom questionnaires, surveys or automatic ingestion of health and wellness data from wearables and devices)
- Curated education creation to educate your users with targeted education content
- Built in rewards system that dispenses reward points for engagement
- Secure user portals for the data collector (employee) and program/application builder (employer)
All built on an end-user centric security and privacy first platform that also has a built in data-vault for highly sensitive user data.
Thanks to the tools offered by Itheum we were able to build, test and release OKPulse to market within 4 weeks. This is truly been a game changer for the OkPulse team.
Signup to OKPulse for Free
OkPulse is currently being used by organisations who have been finding it especially useful as they scale out their team sizes and make their employee base remote. The following is some feedback we have received so far:
“As we scaled up our workforce recently, we were looking for a program to keep a proactive check on our remote team’s wellness, productivity, and to help develop our culture of openness. OKPulse gives us the tools and insights we need to detect early signs of employee work-related stress and pressure.”
Ankit from Fasade
“OkPulse was seamless to rollout to our team and it has been giving us some very useful insights on what’s concerning our employees during a transition to remote work”
Shan from P&M Engineering Consulting
We are keeping OKPulse Free for the foreseeable future so feel free to sign up and use it with your employees today.
Learn more and sign up here: https://itheum.com/okpulse
Watch this video to see how you can Signup, Launch and On-Board your Employees within 5 minutes!
What’s in the pipeline:
We have a bunch of new features coming up within the next 2 months:
- Azure AD Integration for Single Sign-on (SSO) — enables your to integrate OKPulse with your existing Active Directories for on-click access to the user portals — This is now available, read more here
- iOS and Android Apps for seamless collection of Apple Health and Google Health data
- Employee Health and Wellness Ontology expanded to support more specialised data points around employee mental health