CXO

Why healthy employees are vital to your business's success

At SAP Sapphire Now in Orlando, Arianna Huffington shared her vision for well-being platform Thrive Global, which announced a partnership with SAP to pave a way to 'happier, healthier employees.'

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Image: Hope Reese/TechRepublic

It's no secret that employee burnout is a huge problem, especially in the tech industry. And along with burnout comes a less happy—and less productive—workforce. On Wednesday at SAP Sapphire Now in Orlando, SAP and Arianna Huffington's Thrive Global announced a new partnership to tackle this critical problem. Thrive Global, a corporate well-being platform, can "deliver science-based microsteps designed to improve employee well-being and productivity," according to a blog post by Jennifer Morgan, executive board member and president of the Americas and Asia Pacific Japan at SAP.

"Our industry has never moved this fast," said Morgan, in a small roundtable discussion at SAP Sapphire Now. "You have to be constantly innovative, and constantly creative, and at the same time be posting double-digit growth. A lot of times, that equates with burnout," she said. "I knew there had to be a better way."

Morgan also talked about the strategic role of the chief human resources officer (CHRO). "It's a strategic differentiator of business results," she said.

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"I launched the Huffington Post in 2005, and two years later collapsed from exhaustion, burnout, and sleep deprivation," said Huffington, CEO of Thrive Global. "I looked around and realized that although we claim to be data-driven, we are living our lives and leading our workplaces in ways which are simply not data-driven," she said.

"All the latest science proves unequivocally that when you prioritize your health and well-being you are more productive and effective, and it has a direct impact on health care costs, retention, and attrition," Huffington added. "I want to provide pathways for behavior change."

Thrive Global will be available through the SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central and Learning Management solutions. A big aim of the platform is to help employees make changes to their relationship with their devices, which often lead to distraction, stress, and decreased performance at work.

Thrive Global will also support employees who are facing important life events, such as a job promotion, divorce, or death in the family.

By bringing together SAP's machine learning tools with behavioral changes, "we want to offer pathways to change before stress triggers become symptomatic," Huffington said, which can result in issues like smoking, diabetes, hypertension, and depression—"all problems that are the inevitable result of living in high-stress environments."

"Our goal with SAP is to put the Thrive pathways based on the information based on what we have with machine learning across multiple entry points in an employee's life and link to platform to share stories," Huffington said.

"It's wonderful to have a tech company like SAP that also recommends that employees disconnect from technology," she added.

The platform, while intended to encourage employee well-being, inevitably raises privacy questions. Companies are interested in gathering data about their employees to improve productivity. And while employees can choose what they're willing to share, it's worth questioning what kind of incentives employees get for achieving "well-being," and how employers are using that personal data from their employees.

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About Hope Reese

Hope Reese is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers the intersection of technology and society, examining the people and ideas that transform how we live today.

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