Will Smart Badges Help Employers Strategize?

collecting employee data for hr using secure badges

While data mining is essential, finding ways to track employee data for HR has always been tricky in large organizations. Discover how badges can help.

HR analytics aren't as formulaic as other industries. While data mining is essential for organizations to analyze, strategize and expand over time, finding ways to track employee data for HR has always been tricky in large organizations. While some employee metrics are easy to analyze, such as working hours with a time clock assist, others that measure employee behavior seem like they are almost impossible to examine.

What's the best way to determine presenteeism? Is turnover directly related to mismanagement, employee unhappiness or a lack of opportunities for growth? What locations in your organization foster the best brainstorming and ideation sessions? In the past, the answers to those questions may have been difficult to precisely determine, but technology is rapidly expanding to capture employee data for HR with easy to use tools, by way of wearable technology.

What Are Smart Badges?

Think of the fitness wristbands that keep track of your steps, heart rate and even sleeping patterns. Wearable technology has changed the way we access personal information on our own time, and now it's transforming the way we gather employee information while at work. In large organizations, employee badges are a necessity for security reasons, but what can they do for culling and analyzing HR information?

"Smart" employee badges use a combination of the following to measure employee analytics: infrared sensors, microphones, accelorometers and Bluetooth technology. They capture everything from employee interactions, presence, speech patterns and posture, all behavioral indicators that were never able to be measured before.

If the idea seems a little like science fiction to you, welcome to the future. Smart employee badges are being used now by organizations such as Bank of America, and Boston-based Humanyze has already created the first round of wearable employee analyzation technology, according to MIT/Sloan Management Review. By simply wearing their badges all day, employees are changing the way their organizations are doing business.

What Employee Data for HR Will Smart Badges Help You Track


Productivity is lost in small, wasted moments throughout the day. Have you ever considered restructuring your office layout so that employees who interact most can sit closer together? Think about how much time is lost when employees walk from one side of the building to another or up and down the stairs for meetings. The same goes for bathroom, coffee and lunch breaks. Smart badge technology can monitor movement, allowing the C-suite to make decisions about restructuring office layout, even with simple gestures such as moving a copy machine or creating group work rooms.


Since smart badges analyze voice intonation when collecting employee data for HR, employee stress — and stress management — can be measured. MIT/Sloan Management Review reports that when Bank of America implemented Humanyze's smart badge technology, they were interested to see how productivity changed based on how employees talked with the customers. According to Ben Waber, the CEO and co-founder of Humanyze, "because we carry cell phones around with us and we have email, IM, phone call data, internal social media data and now, increasingly, sensors that tell us how we actually collaborate with each other. All those data points paint a picture ... of how people in companies talk to their customers and how those behaviors relate to outputs."

Career Motivation

While fear may initially plague employees when it comes to wearable HR technology, employee smart badges can inspire career growth. While the employee data for HR is being used for overall systematic growth, employees also have access to their own data, which can then be compared to the organization at large. Employees can choose to see how they relate to top performers, and performance reviews will become dynamic with this metric, instead of relying on scaling and a manager's overall memory of the prior year to rate employee performance. Turnover rates will decrease when employees can see job metrics in real time, as issues can be addressed immediately as they arise.

Body Language

You may be surprised by what data can tell you about your employee's productivity. Does a call center need standing desks or wireless headsets that allow employees to walk around? Does your programming department need to lose private offices and instead work in a lounge atmosphere, with sofas, a conference table and small booths for computer work? Should meetings have a designated leader? There's a reason teachers stand at the front of the classroom. Employee smart badges can decipher what body activities your employees are doing when most successful.

It's important to remember to consider employee privacy interests as you deploy these new tools, so that the benefits can be realized without compromising employee privacy. By using smart employee badges to collect and analyze data about how your employees work and how they interact, HR leaders can build stronger policies to promote collaboration and enhance productivity.