A New Age of Technology in Talent Management

A new Korn Ferry report looks at using AI and biometric data to improve employee well-being.

Amelia Haynes

Research Manager, Korn Ferry Institute

Once only seen in movies, biometric tools like voice recognition and fingerprint scanning are now part of our everyday lives. At the same time, AI—or artificial intelligence—is growing rapidly, helping businesses use technology to organize their work and make employees feel valued and motivated.

Recent studies have shown that when employees feel good at work, it's good for business too. And research has proven that when companies create a supportive and challenging work environment, employees work harder and are happier, leading to better financial results for the company.

But making a good workplace isn't easy. Stress from work, unclear roles, and toxic environments can make employees feel burnt out, leading to less productivity and higher turnover. This can come at a significant cost to businesses—up to $300 billion a year in the US alone. “We know that when we experience high levels of stress—physically, emotionally, or socially—we don’t perform our best,” says Amelia Haynes, Research Manager for the Korn Ferry Institute, Korn Ferry’s research arm. “That's why it's imperative for business leaders to not only manage their own stress but also keep an eye on the stress levels of their employees.”

To tackle these challenges, many businesses are starting to use biometric and AI technologies to help employees feel better. A new Korn Ferry paper, co-written with global development and training company Fierce Inc., explores this emerging trend, with a look at how biological data like heart rate and facial expressions can help leaders understand how employees are feeling.

Experts say wearable devices with biometric sensors can track bodily signals in real time, helping businesses spot and deal with stress early. These signals provide a clear way to measure things like where attention is focused (for example, eye gaze) or levels of excitement (like changes in heart rate). With the increasing popularity of consumer wearables (over 1 in 5 American adults have a fitness tracker), tracking these metrics is possible outside of research laboratories. “While businesses are just starting to use biometrics, it's been studied in psychology for a long time to understand the underlying mechanisms of human behaviors and feelings,” Haynes says. “This means wearable devices could be a great help for companies looking to support their employees' well-being at a deeper level.”

One important measure that businesses are using is heart rate variability (HRV), which shows how stressed someone is by measuring the time between heartbeats. Many wearable devices can track HRV and give employees tips to reduce stress, like breathing exercises or mindfulness techniques. Users can also learn more about their stress levels and how they respond to different situations, which helps them manage stress better.

Experts say using biometric data along with AI analytics is changing how businesses manage talent. AI can analyze biometric data to find patterns and trends, and then offer personalized coaching to employees. And case studies have shown that this kind of coaching can reduce stress and help employees bounce back from tough situations. “By integrating AI & biometrics, organizations can better understand and improve employee well-being. We can get down to what are an employee’s greatest causes of stress at work,” says Gabriel De La Rosa, PhD, Chief Behavioral Science Officer at Fierce Inc. “When we combine AI to help employees work through solutions to their greatest stressors, we enhance and accelerate employee well-being initiatives.”

To make the most of wearable technology, business leaders need to plan carefully. They should choose devices that fit their goals, be clear about how they'll use employees' data, and show that they take matters like employee stress and well-being seriously. By building this trust, experts say, companies can create a work environment where technology helps employees feel better and work better.

Organizations are entering a new era of workplace well-being, thanks to the combination of biometric data and AI technology. As businesses adapt to the digital age, these tools can help create strong, motivated, and successful teams. Embracing these changes can lead to happier employees and better results for businesses in the future. “Employee well-being is critical to all organizations because it greatly influences how productive and innovative an employee will be,” De La Rosa says. “When employees are supported by their organizations, they will be able to devote more effort towards helping their organization reach important goals.”