Authors

Inspiration - The initial idea and why you wanted to build it

The pandemic causes a lot of psychological distress in our lives and at work. We need new ways to take better care of employees. HR will have a big role in this, but their workload is already substantial and resources limited. At the same time, employees experience new kinds of stressful situations and increased anxiety but have less support than usual from HR, supervisors or psychological counseling.

Our solution aims to reduce the negative effects such as anxiety and stress. It also helps to track well-being and let HR focus their efforts where most support is needed. Our solution will help employees and HR with the mental health and well-being issues at work, which have been amplified by the current corona crisis.

What the product does and which problem it solves

The pandemic today will also be detrimental to our mental wellbeing/health. Businesses and public organizations rely on people who are able to do a great job. Now we need to focus on the mental wellbeing of employees more than ever before! Otherwise, businesses and public organizations will have a hard time surviving the pandemic and especially the aftermath when we are returning to new normal.

The stress and anxiety we all are facing will reduce our ability to work. Conversely, good mental wellbeing at work boosts creativity, innovativeness, resilience, and productivity—all such things that can help businesses and public organizations get through this crisis!

Few specific problems we are facing at work:

  • Employees need to be more self-managed (while working remotely) than before. They need to find alternative solutions to everyday tasks and recover from stress and anxiety. Employees need to learn to craft their jobs and take care of their mental well-being while working under these new circumstances.
  • Less HR, supervisor and co-worker support is available due to remote working, increased sick leaves, and increased workload.
  • Psychological counseling will be harder to get due to the increased demand and decreased supply.
  • Freelancers and solopreneurs are often left without support and safety nets provided by HR to the employees. At the time of the current pandemic, they are forced to work (alone) remotely and don’t have, or it is costly to have, access to psychological counseling or occupational healthcare.

Fortunately, stress and anxiety can be reduced even during a crisis like the pandemic we are facing now. We are about to explore the possibility of using our technology in combination with science-based quality content for helping people take better care of their selves during the crisis and the aftermath of it.

Our app helps you to understand your state of mental wellbeing, e.g., how stressed you are, and offers targeted and personalized ideas on how to improve your mental wellbeing. It also provides feedback for your team as a whole, so that you can better support each other.

Our scientific background

The suggestions our app provides will be based on e.g, two decades of work engagement research and also research from previous outbreaks and how people have coped with stress and anxiety during those. To be more precise, we will focus on two new research domains in the ongoing development phase. Our existing app and its core is based on Work Engagement (UWES), which has been globally researched for two decades and is one of the cornerstones in modern positive work psychology. In this domain, we have already partnered with the leading researchers.

First, we will focus on anxiety because it has been researched in the previous pandemics and this is how many of us are feeling just now. Anxiety will be measured using GAD-7 questionnaire and new exercises on how to reduce or manage your anxiety will be added into our app. This is what we are just doing in the next few weeks.

For organizations to be prepared to bounce back from the crisis we will turn into resilience. In the second phase, we will add the Brief Resilience Scale (BRS) questionnaire into our app. This will enable HR to investigate how long their organization will survive in the current crisis. And also how fast they are able to bounce back if and when things start to normalize.

As the current crisis progresses and we learn more also about the mental side of it, this information from researchers and (public) health officials will also be utilized and incorporated in the app's content.

How does it work?

  1. Emooter Guide (“Bot”) interviews employees regularly with pulse questionnaires. Questionnaires we use are scientifically validated, e.g. work engagement (UWES-9), GAD-7 for anxiety and Brief Resilience Scale (BRS). This allows us to help employees and HR from three perspectives; 1) What is the overall state of mental well-being, 2) how much anxiety the pandemic has caused, and 3) how much resilience they have in the organization.
  2. It gives instant feedback on mental wellbeing and stress levels for you personally and your team. The feedback is both numeric and textual. For example, if your anxiety levels are on the rise, the Guide will tell you instantly.
  3. The Guide also collects meaningful feedback to share anonymously with the team, your supervisor, or HR. The Guide learns by asking the users for feedback and needs.
  4. The guide then suggests and follows-up on exercises and micro-interventions for coping with e.g. stress, and reducing anxiety. All the suggestions we provide employees with are also based on scientific research i.e known to have an impact on people’s mental well-being.
  5. The data from the interviews and follow-ups is collected and analyzed in real time to assess the situation of your team or the entire organization. These reports are shared with the team as well as HR. HR can also be alerted if a team needs attention. The team can discuss the collected feedback and improve their wellbeing together.

We believe Emooter can have an impact both during and after the crisis

  • Preventive and scalable care to avoid burnouts and exhaustion and to reduce the effect and duration of such conditions.
  • Lower stress and anxiety levels of whole teams to help them get through the crisis.
  • Employees will stay more innovative and creative and find ways to keep businesses afloat.
  • For HR, with already limited resources due to pandemic, better insight where and what kinds of mental well-being challenges their employees are facing.

How we built it and with what tech stack, tools, APIs

We had the current Emooter app ready. We have been exploring studies from previous pandemics, work psychology and different types of therapies for relieving anxiety and stress during a crisis. We have been also evaluating how much effort would it take to utilize our existing technology for this new purpose and found it to be quite feasible.

We are re-purposing our Virtual Wellbeing Guide Bot

  1. Scalable solution that works on all devices. No need to download anything.
  2. Already available in multiple languages and it is possible to quickly add new languages
  3. All the content in the app is and will be based on scientific research. This applies both to survey questionnaires and suggestions we provide the employees with.
  4. Feedback, both on the issues and best practices, from the employees to HR, management or the whole organization if high-level of trust and transparency. Users get to have their say on our suggestions and if they had an impact on them with the “thumbs up or down”.
  5. More detailed reports and better insights for HR to create a holistic view and action plan on mental well-being, anxiety, and resilience.

Our Emooter app has been built with Vue.js, Node.js, and MongoDB.

What were the biggest challenges while building it?

As the crisis has progressed, our research partners have been hard at work. This is why we need to expand our network of psychologists, I/O and work psychology researchers and practitioners to be able to produce quality content and fully implement this idea. There is new research coming all the time of the pandemic’s impact on mental well-being at work. There are so many urgent needs for both the employees and HR that choosing the most impactful ones was one of the key challenges.

How did you solve them and what we learned

A lot of research has been done on handling the added stress and anxiety caused by pandemics and other crises. There is a great opportunity in learning from past experiences and research and with that knowledge make a real impact on how well people, and thus businesses, can cope with this situation. We have been focusing on HR needs and user feedback during this hackathon.

Accomplishments that we're are proud of about this product

As a startup with limited resources, we feel we did a great job in quickly finding a feasible, quick-to-implement way to re-purpose our tech and service to help people as well as businesses in this situation. We have already started the first steps to launch these additions to our current Emooter app to help employees and organizations with the mental health issues pandemic is causing to all of us.

What are the next steps for Project 40 A Virtual Guide for Mental Well-being at Work after the HR Hackathon online?

Call for collaboration and support

We believe our proven technology with content tailored to this global situation could help businesses around the world. We are now looking for pilot customers, partners, collaborators and sponsors. We will have the first pilot version ready in a week. With your help, we can get this solution globally available in just a few weeks. Let’s make a positive impact together!

With the right partners, we would love to offer it free-of-charge to sectors critical for the functioning of society. Other businesses and public organizations can already use our app free for the first month. Small businesses struggling financially will get the first two months for free.

What are the necessary resources and plan to implement the product and our future plans

We will continue to develop the concept, and explore partnering and sponsorship possibilities for speeding up the implementation of this idea. We have the knowledge and capabilities to implement our product. Partners and collaborators will speed up our market launch. And the same applies to new customers as well.

We will also continue to explore the possibility and partners to launch a subscription model of Emooter targeted to freelancers and solopreneurs. We would wish to do this in collaboration with a freelancer network (.e.g freelance.com or other global community or co-working organization.

Future plans

We have also identified, and actually tested one of them during this hackathon, opportunities to make this service even more approachable and impactful:

  1. As more people are working remotely and already using communications tools such as Slack and Teams, we will implement a chatbot on those platforms to bring our service where the users already are collaborating.
  2. Data-integrations to our app could open up new possibilities. Integrating with e.g., personal trackers and wearables (e.g. Fitbit, Oura, Apple Health, Google Fit) could be used to combine objective physiological and subjective mental wellbeing data for better accuracy and a holistic approach to well-being. We have been testing this idea in project #42 with Healthzilla.
  3. Integrations from our app to KPI/Dashboard tools, ERPs, or other software could help the leadership of companies to understand the evolving situation in the workforce better and to take timely actions.
  4. Voice (and facial) biomarkers could be used to make the evaluation of e.g., stress or anxiety levels more accurate. Combining subjective assessment with objective biomarker data could lead to deeper understanding and better targeting of helpful content. And also make it easier for the employees and ease the time pressure of answering different surveys.

Try It out

Hackathons

Technologies

mongodb, node.js, vue

Devpost Software Identifier

261557