A voice can tell you a lot about a person and their emotional state. For example, in business, it can be the difference in telling whether an employee is confident and motivated or whether they are stressed or unhappy. Nemesysco is a company exploring the possibility of voice analytics and how it can support employee wellness. We chatted to Nemesysco’s director of HR solutions, Lior Doron, to find out more.
Could we begin with a broad definition of voice analytics – what does this mean in general terms?
When we speak, we are communicating and expressing and experiencing a range of emotions. Some of these emotions are obvious, while many are hidden and, at times, even to ourselves. All of these emotions that we experience when speaking, whether visible to others, cause uncontrolled changes to our voice. These uncontrolled changes contain a wealth of information about our characteristics and intentions.
Voice analytics, from our experience, is the process of revealing the genuine emotions of people and the truth behind their spoken words. This is actually how our Layered Voice Analysis technology works. By revealing a speaker’s genuine emotions, our technology served as a bridge between voice and expected behaviour to deliver actionable information for better decision making.
We are making progress on the possibilities of voice analytics applications for human resources, particularly for remote employee wellness monitoring.
Knowing your employees better is one of the key advantages that voice analytics can deliver to employers. As the pandemic drags on, the need to efficiently monitor employees’ wellbeing and other work metrics is growing by the day.
Voice analytics for monitoring employees should not be considered a Big Brother thing but rather an essential tool for organisations to better engage with their employees and better understand the well-being of those forced to work from home. For example, our technology can tell if an employee is frustrated or at risk of burnout and track changes over time, such as identifying staff members with increasing levels of stress or decreasing levels of motivation.
What are some of the key findings?
The feedback we receive from our customers in the HR sector is that since the start of the COVID outbreak, employees were initially experiencing high levels of stress and frustration.
Many of the organisations using our voice analytics technology for their HR purposes also reported that employees who tell their managers that they have adjusted to working remotely and claim to be comfortable working from home are actually experiencing the highest levels of fatigue and lack of motivation.
The main challenge HR teams and managers are facing today is decreasing productivity. To no surprise, this is especially true for the employees forced to work from home over an extended period of time.
How are organisations adapting their wellness policies to support staff?
Since the outbreak of COVID and work-from-home mandates, many organisations have significantly expanded their employee wellness programs. We see this especially among large corporations and government organisations.
For example, many organisations are helping their employees better organise their workspaces at home and remove distractions. We also see that many organizations are helping their employees build daily routines and prioritise their schedules. This support is very important, especially for employees that are struggling to adjust to working from home.
Today, many companies are improving the wellness of their employees by offering their employees mindfulness courses or online activities with the objective of creating connections and shared laughter.
Voice analytics can also be applied to the recruitment process to understand more about candidates, including their emotional responses and even if they are being honest during interviews.
Interviews require candidates to present their best selves (no matter whether they are presenting in person or remotely) – they are often not “themselves”, and they are stressed and nervous.
Could voice analytics be providing recruiters with too much information about a candidate’s psychological state? If yes, why and if not, why not?
Our voice analytics technology provides a comprehensive emotional map with a full landscape of characteristics and a lot of additional data. This wide bank of information is used differently in each application of the technology and even by each user.
For instance, recruiters will use our technology to filter through large volumes of candidates and highlight those with the most compatible set of characteristics, such as ambition, creativity, honesty and trustworthiness.
Hiring managers will leverage our technology to analyse candidates based on the specific job functions that are being filled. An example here would be looking for high levels of trust and honesty for a position that requires accessing sensitive customer information. Another example could be looking for leadership and motivational qualities in candidates for managerial positions.
Our technology can also be used for a deeper analysis of candidates that are being considered for promotions based on organisation objectives or for exit interviews with employees leaving the company. For these exit interviews, the company can assess the intentions and feelings of an employee that has accepted an offer to work for another company in the same space.
One of our partners mentioned that it is conducting proof-of-concept voice analytics trials for governments and enterprises.
How could these technologies be used within government – is this purely for recruitment or are there other applications?
There are currently three ongoing projects that have passed the proof of concept stage and are now full-scale deployments with several government entities around the globe. The application of our voice analytics technology for the HR vertical can be applied to every step of the employment cycle from initial recruiting to ongoing engagement to retirement.
We also offer applications for many other verticals. One example is the call centre space where our technology is being widely used to improve customer service, sales and agent performance. Our technology also has a strong application for risk assessment and fraud detection and prevention for banks and other financial service companies.
Healthcare professionals are using our technology to monitor for signs of depression and other mental health issues. In this space, we have a project that we are very proud of where our technology is embedded in robots that are being used to assist the elderly who live alone.
Finally, what’s ahead for the future of HR and voice analytics?
Remote working is definitely here to stay. The same can be said for the remote hiring practices that have expanded over the past year or two. This movement towards a centralised work environment actually started well before Covid.
Going forward, in many organisations we expect there will be less direct interaction between staff and their managers. This will certainly happen in many sectors when travel restrictions are eventually eased and vendors can begin meeting with their customers again in person.
With this in mind, the need for voice analytics and the intelligence we provide to better understand people and their motivations and how to better support to succeed will continue to grow.
Voice analytics is currently becoming a standard part of the hiring process. This is especially true for remote hiring and the need for this will continue to grow as the dynamics between managers and staff continue to evolve.
Many of the personal dynamics of face-to-face interactions have disappeared over Zoom. Body language and elements of professionalism, for instance, are difficult to pick up in Zoom interactions. However, genuine emotion detection enabled by voice analytics can fill this gap. This is important for both sides, especially those managers and staff members who do not present well over Zoom.
As for the future of voice analytics in HR, we foresee that more and more businesses and organisations will be using the technology as an integral part of their ongoing employee engagement practices. As a result, voice analytics in HR will contribute to a more productive work environment for the benefit of both employers and employees.
Lior Doron is the director of human resource solutions at Nemesysco. She is responsible for the company’s product development strategy and solution delivery management in the human resources vertical market.
Article by Sara Barker, 20 Aug 2021