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French bank wants employees to check their pulse

As banks seek to counter the stress of the pandemic and the stressors of working from home, Zoom yoga sessions, online Pilates, meditation and mindfulness apps have proliferated. SocGen has just launched its own app which includes additional functionality to monitor participating employees' mood pulse. 

Part of the 'Unmind' platform launched by the bank on desktop and through a mobile app, the pulse check-in is intended to help employees gauge their stress at different points during the day. It doesn't literally check their pulse, but asks a series of questions and produces a measure of employees' 'calmness, happiness, coping, sleep, health, connection and fulfilment.'

Ben Higgins, Head of HR in the UK, says the pulse check-in operates as a "mood-monitor", and that the Unmind platform also offers, "self-help and relaxation topics and tips, as well as bite size learning modules." These are in addition to webinars on mental health and well-being that the bank was offering already. 

Employees are not compelled to share their pulse with the bank. Nor are they required to actually measure their heartbeats. This is a shame. In 2012, John Coates, a former derivatives trader turned academic at the University of Cambridge, produced research into the pathology of risk taking, which showed that traders experienced faster heart beats ahead of risky trades. Coates' subsequent research showed that employees with greater awareness of their physiological signals were better risk-takers in laboratory experiments.  

SocGen is far from the only bank with a stress-busting app. Goldman Sachs introduced a resilience management platform in 2018, which incudes a mobile, 'clinically validated self-development tool that helps users mitigate stress, achieve emotional balance and improve work performance.' Goldman's tool helps employees develop a customized plan to, 'respond to daily events, understand mood and stress triggers, and gain confidence and build critical skills.'

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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