Is preventing burnout the responsibility of the employer or the employee?

preventing burnout

As a young team leader, it was difficult for me to understand family life. Having no kids, I could spend a lot of my time and energy on work, since my evenings were free of responsibilities. Having no personal experience, I had no idea of the chaos and amount of work awaiting a parent, especially mothers, on return to home after a day at the office.  

Also, luckily enough, not everyone has experienced firsthand the mental mental burden of having to go through a divorce or a family member falling seriously ill. Big life changes always affect your work too and can take away, for a long time, the joy and satisfaction you experience in your work.

Someone in a leading position can, of course, have a family and big challenges in life too; we all know life can be really hard sometimes. This does not mean, however, that all managers understand why burnouts happen. We’re all individuals, we do not react to the same issues in the same way. To enforce the argument, I’m sure everyone can think of someone they know who seemingly navigates through life without appearing to experience significant amount of stress.

What are the consequences of having a boss who never seems to be stressed out?

It can lead to behaviour such as mine as a young leader without kids, not being empathic enough to understand how strongly and wholly stress affects both free time and work.

Whether or not a manager experiences stress themselves, s/he has the duty to actively observe employees to see if the burden is getting too big. If signs appear, the first step is have a discussion with the employee in question.

The Finnish Occupational Safety and Health Act No. 738/2002, Section 8, describes the employers’ general duty to exercise care:

“Employers shall continuously monitor the working environment, the state of the working community and the safety of the work practices. Employers shall also monitor the impact of the measures put into practice on safety and health at work.”

But how do you define and measure the issues employees find stressful? Moreover, which of these can be argued to be issues the employer can control?

The employer has control over many things that can cause stress, such as company culture, salary policy or physical environment

The most important issues in this respect are equality, integrity and the sense of fairness. Equality needs to be understood broadly, consisting of gender and salary equality, equal opportunities for career advancement and raises, and fair division of tasks and responsibilities.

It is also the duty of the employer to ensure that there is a fair balance between a job description, the skills and competences of an employee, and the objectives of the employer.

Without a doubt, providing a safe and suitable physical environment for the job required is the responsibility of the employer. There are many issues to consider, but let me raise one: In the open office plans of today, is enough consideration taken to secure an environment devoid of disruption and noise for work requiring concentration?

Company culture, ways of working and organizational structure are defined and controlled by the employer, having a big impact on the well-being of an employee.

It is also the employer’s responsibility to continuously monitor the work atmosphere among the employees.

Not all factors related to well-being can be expressed as clearly set rules: The boss just needs to stay alert. Minea Ahlroth, who has studied harassment and discrimination at work, writes:

“A manager has the duty to mingle with the employees, taking the pulse of the organization   and making note of the different emerging signals.” (Ahlroth et. al. 2015, 90)

What if the employer does things by the book? All structures, salary policy, positions and ways of working are fair. The atmosphere is good, for the most part the staff seems to like both their work and the workplace. The employer can not detect shortcomings.

Being responsible for your own well-being is not a choice, it is a must

An employer has a huge responsibility for their staff. They are required to create a workplace that promotes equality and enables employees to achieve a successful work-life balance. A forward-looking employer supports an individual in many other ways too.

In turn, the employees need to tell when things are not going well.

prevent burnout

Everyone able to take part in working life has the responsibility to take care of themselves and their own well-being.

Why? Because an employer cannot know everything that is going on in one’s life. No matter how good the employer, they cannot optimize the work conditions for everyone, let alone their life outside of work. Everyone’s life has shorter or longer periods when one’s mental load is bigger than the opportunities for recovery.

How do we tackle stress at Moodmetric

At Moodmetric the mental well-being is the responsibility of both the employer and employee. But what are the concrete actions?

Naturally the method of measuring stress levels is something available for everyone. This is not obligatory, but it can be done all the time or when the person so desires. Some of us have been wearing the Moodmetric ring continuously for over 4 years now.

The greatest value from the Moodmetric measurement can be derived when the mental load is high. When the stress levels creep up, the person is like a crab in a kettle set to boil – a person does not recognize the heat build up over time.

What can the employee do?

When the Moodmetric levels get higher than recommended, the first thing an employer would need to do is to take action to lower the levels. What are these actions?

We are all individuals, which means that we need to find our own individual ways to lower our stress levels. This is where the Moodmetric real-time measurement proves to be a helpful tool: An individual learns the things which raise and lower their stress levels. Employing some commonly known ways to alleviate stress, such as getting more sleep and enjoying open air activities and nature is a good way to start one’s journey of self-discovery.

And what is the role of the employer?

What are the responsibilities of an employer to support an individual’s search for balance? The best results can be achieved by the employer supporting the individual in the measures s/he has chosen. If there is a need for some days off or shorter workdays or weeks, there should be a way to try and find an optimum solution for all. Personalized options are the key: Even longer breaks during workdays can have a significant effect on productivity.

The goal is common

The employer and employee should work together to prevent chronic stress and often long absences due to burnout. A single burnout is a grave symptom and requires immediate actions in the workplace. The reputation of a company can be severely impacted by its employees going public about their stress and lack of well-being.

Both employees and companies have the common goal of preserving health, attaining a positive mindset and longevity of life. Employees with a healthy work-life balance help companies and organizations to prosper. A happy and healthy employee spreads positive attitude around him or her. In the end, it is, for example, our families who emerge as the ultimate beneficiaries if our well-being at work is taken care of.

Ask us about the Moodmetric-measurement

Moodmetric technology shows great promise in identifying stress levels in a work environment

The detrimental effects of chronic stress are gaining increasing attention. In addition to human suffering, stress has economic impact and long-term consequences on society and people in general.

Moodmetric is a company which helps individuals to understand how their bodies react to different cognitive and emotional stimuli. The Moodmetric measurement enables early recognition and prevention of chronic stress.

The Moodmetric smart ring is a device for measuring with ease and accuracy electrodermal activity (EDA), as the following clinical research confirms.

Research at Tampere University: Moodmetric technology shows great promise in identifying stress levels in a work environment

The Personal Health Informatics research group at Tampere University, Finland, has studied the effects of cognitive stress on the body in a simulated research environment.

In the research setting individuals were exposed to three different levels of emotional and cognitive stress: calm, active, and intense. The impact of the different simulated situations on the individuals was analysed by measuring electrodermal activity (EDA) and a questionnaire. The purpose of the research was to find out how accurate the Moodmetric smart ring is at measuring EDA in comparison to the traditional laboratory methods. In addition, the aim was also to study how well the self-assessments of the individuals correlated with the test results. Machine learning was used to analyse the test results.

Hannu Nieminen, D.ScThe preliminary results are encouraging: ‘The initial conclusions appear to support the hypothesis that the Moodmetric smart ring can provide information on the stressfulness of work-related situations almost as accurately as respective laboratory equipment designed to measure EDA’, says Hannu Nieminen, D.Sc. and head of the research.

Overall the research has brought about some very interesting information, including the observation that individuals are less able to recognize and interpret the level of stress they are experiencing in a particular situation than the measuring devices reading their EDA.

The results of the research will be published at the conference for Engineering in Medicine and Biology in Berlin in July 2019.

Research at University of Jyväskylä: The Moodmetric index correlates with the stress hormone cortisol

There is another research ongoing in Finland by Jyväskylä University, in collaboration with a private health clinic called Pihlajanlinna, which appears to confirm the accurateness of the Moodmetric index in clinical research.

A cognitive stress test, Trier Mental Challenge, was used to measure the ability of the participants to do arithmetic calculations, which grew more difficult over a period of ten minutes. The participants’ cortisol levels were measured from saliva before and after taking the cognitive test, and the Moodmetric smart ring was worn throughout the test. On average, the MM level variated between 61±15 and the changes in cortisol were 12±71%. The relative change in cortisol levels correlated positively with the MM level (r=.71, p=0.005, see picture). The more the level of cortisol rose during the test, the higher the MM levels were.

cortisole correlation
Picture: The correlation between the Moodmetric level (MM level) and the relative change in cortisol levels (N=14) (r=.71, p=0.005). The more the level of cortisol rose during the test, the higher the MM levels were.

The full research results by the team from the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä will become available later in the year.

Find our more about what a stress reaction means. How does is affect our bodies, how can it be measured and what is the connection with the cortisol level?

The sympathetic nervous system triggers the fight-or-flight response before we consciously make any decision on how to act. Many things happen very fast. First the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline) are released into our system. We notice the effects: Rapid pulse and respiration increase oxygen intake for fast action. Blood pressure goes up and extra oxygen is sent to the brain, increasing alertness. Sight, hearing, and other senses become sharper.

Blood sugar (glucose) and fats from energy stores are released into the bloodstream to give us the extra power we need. Skin temperature goes up and the increased sweat on the palms of our hands improves our grip– should we need to climb a tree to flee.

All these reactions are caused by some very fast chemical processes in our body. Our preparedness for the fight is automatic and we flee away from threat without conscious cognitive processing.

What happens next? If a fight is unavoidable, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis or HTPA axis) is activated after the first surge of adrenaline subsides. The HPA axis keeps the sympathetic nervous system up and running as long as needed, until the fight is over.

This adrenal cortex produces hormones that contribute to the release of cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that has several functions, including the controlling of the blood sugar level during stress reaction. The hormonal effects induced by the adrenal cortex are called indirect stress responses as they work through the bloodstream. The effects of these responses take place within 20-30 seconds.

 

Find out more about Moodmetric in research

Contact: Niina Venho ([email protected]) +358 40 710 0487

Moodmetric smart ring – Finnish know-how at its best

The Moodmetric smart ring is a prime example of Finnish innovation in the area of health technology. Vigofere Oy was set up as a company five years ago to commercialize the invention of Henry Rimminen, D.Sc., who had developed a smart ring which measures electrodermal activity (EDA). The ability to measure, outside of test laboratory conditions, the electricity that your body emits was revolutionary and 2013 saw the birth of the first prototype for further development.

Moodmetric smart ring black and turquoise
The Mooodmetric smart ring is a Finnish health tech innovation
How It All Begun

As a researcher at Aalto University, Henry Rimminen had worked on various sensors and methods for measuring physiological activity. Fitness trackers were a growing trend and devices based on measuring heart rate had been available for consumers for some time already.

Measuring electrodermal activity had been in research use for over a hundred years, but there were no practical applications of the measurement method on the market for consumers. It was this challenge that Henry Rimminen aimed to solve.

Inventor of the Moodmetric smart ring D.Sc. Henry Rimminen
Inventor of the Moodmetric smart ring D.Sc. Henry Rimminen

Our bodies react to external stimuli, both psychological and physical. This triggers off the sympathetic nervous system, the activity of which can be measured by how the eccrine (very tiny) sweat glands respond. These glands are dense on the palm of our hands, making them the optimum location to place the measuring sensor on.

EDA, or skin conductance, is a phenomenon which was discovered by two researchers, Charles Vigoroux and Richard Féré in the late 19th century. The name of the company, Vigofere Oy, was derived from the names of these two trailblazers.

The Challenges

In laboratory conditions EDA is measured by placing electrodes on the skin, usually on the tip of two fingers. For an accurate reading, no movement is allowed.

To develop a consumer product, Henry Rimminen had to overcome several challenges:
• Downsizing the measuring device from the size of a block of cheese to as small as possible.
• Instead of restricting the use of two fingers, the device had to be effortless to wear in everyday life.
• The results should not be affected by physical movement.
• Data transfer should be wireless.

Early prototypes of the Moodmetric smart ring
Early prototypes

In the autumn of 2015 the first commercial version of the Moodmetric smart ring was launched. It was the result of many iterative rounds of research and development. Once the electronics and measuring capability were deemed robust enough, designer Vesa Nilsson provided the ring its Scandinavian look and feel. Vesa Nilsson is famous for transformational and clean design. For further information, see Oz Jewel.

Data Management

One of the key principles Henry Rimminen followed right from the start was ease of use: It was imperative that the data the ring collects could be effortlessly retrieved, read and managed. Developing an application running on a smart phone was the next logical step.

The mobile application had to incorporate two basic elements:
• The index with the numeric values 1-100 is calculated from the raw data and show the alertness level of the person wearing the ring. High numeric figures signify stress or excitement, low figures a sense of calm.
• A round diagram demonstrates the fluctuation of the stress levels during 12-hour intervals. The use of colour make it easy to visualize, in one glance, the different levels of alertness, sliding from red for high levels on the outer peripheral of the diagram to the light greens of low stress levels on the inner circle of the diagram. For further information on the Moodmetric index and data interpretation, see here.

Vigofere Oy/Moodmetric today

Vigofere Oy has been in business for over five years and has a fully Finnish ownership. R&D is all done in Finland, as is the assembly and packing of the product too.

Moodmetric serves consumers, researchers, companies and health professionals globally.

The Moodmetric smart ring can be purchased from the Moodmetric webshop and the mobile application can be downloaded for free from the App Store and Google Play.

For companies and health professionals Moodmetric provides a measuring service for preventive stress management. Research institutes have been the first to utilize the technology and the ring in their work. For further information see our research page.

Stress is a positive thing, when it is well balanced. Our mission at Moodmetric is to help each and everyone to find their individual and optimum way to manage stress in all situations. Our goal is to significantly reduce the negative effects of chronic stress on individual, organizational and societal levels.
We at Moodmetric believe that the world can be saved from a state of chronic stress with Finnish health technology.

Buy the Moodmetric smart ring

Ask more about Moodmetric services for companies and occupational health: [email protected] / +358 44 309 6997

A high school wellbeing project aimed at better self awareness with a physiological stress measurement

In Lempäälä high school, Finland, a large wellbeing project has been initiated. It aims to give the students practical tools to manage both their physical and mental wellbeing better. The pilot group in the fall 2018 had the possibility for a 2 week Moodmetric measurement. Surprisingly high stress levels were measured both with students and teachers.

Society and the working life expectations are transforming. The world we and our kids live in is changing every day and this all requires constant adaptation. According to Psychology Today, the average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950’s.

Practical approach to better wellbeing of students

The teachers in Lempäälä high school, Finland, have understood that things cannot be done as in the past.  Finnish core curriculum for basic education is on excellent level and under continuous scrutiny to match the future requirements for today´s youth.

But in Lempäälä they want to cover more than the basic agenda. They want to support the students to find their strengths and hidden talents early on. Better self awareness and understanding of what is best for myself are needed in the world of information flow and continuous stimulus. Own place within society and working life seems to be more and more difficult to plan and the feeling of insecurity can be stressful. A good self understanding helps to make right choices in life.

Jarmo Lehtinen is a teacher who wants to equip the students in the best possible way for the future working life – and life. – We learn by doing, we execute a lot of practical projects and try new things, we are not here just for theoretizing. The students are creative and innovative in a group they know and can trust. In it, it´s easy to get to know also difficult and hard topics.

Students get active for their own wellbeing

In the fall 2018 personal wellbeing has been in focus. – They say that we should be careful not to put too much pressure on the students. But the future will be very demanding, there will be a lot of things that need adaptation. We are learning stress management proactively, says Jarmo Lehtinen. – In media they discuss a lot of how young people are tired of school. I’d sat it’s not just school, but all the other things beside it, too. The whole life can be tiring these days. That’s why we need to aim for balance in everything, Lehtinen continues.

Lempäälä high school has taken a holistic approach to wellbeing. Everybody knows by now the 8+8+8 model. It means that there should be work, free time and rest in right proportions in the day. Sleep, exercise and stress management have been covered in a project led by an external coach, Pertti Ratilainen.

Before the project the teachers agreed that there should be tangible measured data. This would be important both in getting a good picture on wellbeing of the students but also in ensuring funding for the project. The Moodmetric smart ring measurement was chosen for a 2 week period for everyone participating in the pilot project. The measurements were done in October and the pilot was concluded in December.

What was learned from the Moodmetric measurement?

Students Karita Tanni and Kristian Haapalehto were glad to take part in the measurement. – I really looked forward to the measurement, I wanted more information of how my body works. When I got the ring, it was really interesting to follow the real time data, Karita Tanni.

The Moodmetric measurement data shows what stresses out and what calms down. For high school students it was surprising how strongly the mind could react and how it could stay active for a long time. On the other hand, a good focus on homework was well shown as low Moodmetric numbers. Relaxed states were also measured e.g. while driving or spending time with friends. These were the positive learnings that the students learned to look for. – With the Moodmetric measurement, I found ways how not to stress, says Kristian Haapalehto.

Also the teachers got interested in the measurement

The Moodmetric measurement was originally intended just for the students, but the teachers wanted to participate as well. We wanted to show the principal, how stressful our work is, laughs Jarmo Lehtinen.  – For students it was a surprise how many loading factors there were outside of school. For teachers the challenges of everyday life were more familiar. Jarmo Lehtinen gives an example: -We have a puppy now, which already makes a big impact for how much sleep I am getting – or not getting!

According to the Moodmetric measurement the school days have been quite active for both the students and the teachers. This can be a sign of enthusiasm, and of the joy of learning new things. High levels can also be a sign of negative stress. This would mean high Moodmetric levels combined with general negative experienced mood. In these cases it would be the most important to look for moments of recovery.

The sleep

Many were surprised to see how different the nights were from one to another. – One night was not similar to another. The most valuable insight personally was how much I can do myself to sleep better. What I do during the day and evening has a huge impact on sleep. Watching a soccer game where my team finally lost was not the best preparing for the night, grins Lehtinen.

Do I have the willpower to change my habits?

Young adults are very well aware of the factors affecting their wellbeing. Good habits have been discussed at home – the parents remind of the bedtime and try to limit the time spent on smartphone.

Knowing what is good for us is not enough. The difficult part is to change habits for better wellbeing, says Pertti Ratilainen. -This is difficult especially to adults! Even a small increase to sleep or outdoor activity seems to be very difficult to do.

The students of the Lempäälä high school show that they can do better. During the project, 80% of the participants had made positive changes for their own wellbeing.

This is just a beginning, says Jarmo Lehtinen. – We are planning a much larger project for next semester. We aim to include every 1. and 2. year student to be active for their own wellbeing. The effects of the products we expect to see in learning and school work immediately. In long term, it would be great to provide these students practical wellbeing tools for the entire life.

Ask more about the Lempäälä high school wellbeing project:

Lempäälä high school: Jarmo Lehtinen [email protected]

Coach in the project: Pertti Ratilainen

Moodmetric: Niina Venho [email protected] +358 40 7104087

Good start to stress management

The starting level and objectives in stress management are as important as when maintaining physical condition. An employer wishes that every employee is with good health and well-being for the duration of their career. Most companies systematically take actions to promote this. When looking at stress management from an individual point of view, there are as many situations as people.

From a physical point of view someone might have as an objective to spend less time on a couch. Another wants to run a marathon or win a competition in weight lifting. Regarding the mental well-being, too many just would like to manage it until tomorrow.

“5 simple ways to live a less stressful life” or  “7 tips to managing daily stress”  are interesting titles and lead thoughts to how things are in ones´ life. Often these tips do not take into account the big picture nor is the experienced stress positive or negative.

The Moodmetric smart ring is the only wearable that shows the cognitive and emotional stress real time, and enables measuring also in long term.

The Moodmetric measurement data from several years has brought better understanding on stress

Analyzing the Moodmetric  data over the course of four years has helped us to better understand the fluctuating stress levels. The measurement periods are are from 2 weeks to years, which enables seeing how changes in life affect the stress levels. It has become clear, that a person’s starting point plays an important role in stress management.

1. People stress differently

Based on the Moodmetric measurement people can be roughly divided to two categories

  • Reaching high stress levels often and easily, both out of excitement and of negative stress. This means reacting often very strongly to emotional and cognitive stimuli.
  • Those who react more flatly, have less deviation from average values. Also these people can reach high Moodmetric-levels very fast, but they normally soon return back to equilibrium.

In the first group people might need to pay more attention to recovery every day. Sleep can be very deep when balance has been gained.

Example: A typical Moodmetric 24 hour measurement of a person easily reaching high stress levels. On the left the day from 6am to 6pm, on the right the night from 6pm to 6am.

In the second group the recovery during the night might not need to be as complete. This is because the load of the sympathetic nervous system is more modest during the day.

Example: A typical Moodmetric 24 hour measurement of a person with modest response to stress. On the left the day from 6am to 6pm, on the right the night from 6pm to 6am.

It is good to understand my own way to react to stress. There are as many ways as there are persons, and this can also change with different phases of life.

No way to react is better than the other. During evolution all types were needed – this has not changed. People acting differently are needed in social and occupational context. Diversity is good also regarding stress responses. 

2. You need to recover also from excitement

Also positive stress can wear out when going on for a long time. People devoted to their work, entrepreneurs, creative people and many others sometimes enjoy positive stress for too long. A dream job can also lead to burnout.a.

Devices and tests might tell a lot, but the most important is own experience. What is the situation in my life – the work, family, leisure, friends? Do I feel things are pretty good, or is some area of my life very demanding right now? If I say I am stressed, what does it feel like and how does it affect my life?

The Moodmetric smart ring is a support for individual stress management. It gives valuable measurement data and helps in better self understanding.

The measurement data always needs to be put in the context of own life. Same numbers can in different situations mean a different thing. Very low Moodmetric levels have been measured both with depressed and those who are simply always calm.

3. Good start to managing stress is to understand oneself and one’s life

What stresses me out, how do I calm down, what is my individual way to react? A short practice: Can you easily place yourself to the below fourfold table of wellbeing? No that your position might vary depending on whether you think of work, family or other part of life.

The wellbeing fourfold is for determining how high is the stress/arousal level, and is the state positive or negative. The Moodmetric measurement shows the stress level on a scale of 1 to 100. The app Analytics screen shows the chosen categories of life on a similar fourfold, when the user has defined the mood as pleasant/unpleasant. (Use the Diary feature for this.)

When defining where I am on the map, it is good to understand what was discussed in point 1: how do I react to stress. Some people mainly move in lower part of the picture, high levels of stress or excitement are not natural. Whether stress level is low or high, the right side of the fourfold is better in long term.

the Moodmetric measurement helps to manage stress better

The Moodmetric measurement helps to put oneself to the correct spot on the picture of own life and stress. What stresses me out, what not, what are my stress levels comparing the objective – ie. balance?

– What Moodmetric levels one should aim at?

No single measurement result is good or bad. In long term the objective is balance. This means that sleep and rest during the day compensate the activation of the sympathetic nervous system due to emotional or cognitive load. When the Moodmetric daily average number is about 50, it indicates balance of the autonomic nervous system.

Good start to managing stress is to acknowledge own situation as accurately as possible. Measured cognitive and emotional load is often both a support and a motivating factor.

 

The Moodmetric smart ring is available at the Moodmetric web shop.

Inquiries about the Moodmetric services for organizations: [email protected]

Read more about the Moodmetric company measurement at HERE Technologies. 

 

 

HERE Technologies is showing the way also in stress management

The Tampere unit provides the Moodmetric measurement to the whole crew. The measurement is done in co-operation with the occupational healthcare.

HERE Technologies is a global company providing mapping and location services with 9000 employees. About one percentage of the personnel is located in Finland and the vast majority of them in Tampere.

In the early spring 2018 the Tampere unit started discussions with the occupational health how to support the employees’ mental wellbeing proactively. Support for physical wellbeing had been offered for a while already, but Jari Syrjärinne, the unit manager, wanted a more holistic approach to employee wellbeing.

– We are a fast growing company and want to maintain our agility and positive drive. Almost all of us have a background in a big corporation, where fast growth first brings speed and unpredictable situations, but may eventually result in rigidity. We want to help our staff to keep up with the pace without compromizing the job wellbeing, Jari Syrjärinne says.

Jari Syrjärinne, the Unit Manager of HERE Technologies (Photo Moodmetric)

– Another important reason for starting the Moodmetric measurements was the objective data it provides. There is a lot of technology for assessing physical health, but the available methods to understand mental health are mainly subjective surveys. This is the first measurement that enables easy and almost insivible way to assess stress and recovery also in long term,  Jari Syrjärinne continues.

HERE’s occupational health physician, Leena Pesonen, was introduced to Moodmetric measurement through another customer and suggested the measurement to HERE as well. – I think the service seemed worth trying and wanted to present it to HERE. There is not that much technology available to be used in occupational health for assessing stress and recovery objectively that motivates the user for better stress management at the same time. I tried the ring myself, and I was impressed. I recognize my stress and recovery reactions very well in my body and it was great to verify that in the graphs of the Moodmetric app, says Leena Pesonen from a Finnish healthcare provider Terveystalo.

Not just a perk for the management team

The strong willingness to invest in employee wellbeing seems evident at HERE.Very often similar services are only provided to the management team or groups that are most active to request organizational and personal development activities. It is worth noting as well that HERE decided to book a follow up Moodmetric measurement right away. –  With this first measurement round we want to find out what is the starting level for HERE Tampere. In September when the last group of participants has completed the measurement we are able to reflect and discuss together what kind of wellbeing interventions are needed in the upcoming year. In the summer 2019 we will redo the measurements, Jari Syrjärinne says.

HERE decided to buy 20 rings and the Moodmetric measurement is done in three rounds for the whole staff. Between the measurements the rings are available for the personnel for free use.

Participating in the Moodmetric measurement is voluntary, but HERE hopes that everyone will seize the opportunity. – Usually the ones who are the most eager to participate, are the ones who already pay attention to their wellbeing. To plan truly effective workplace interventions,we need to be able to motivate everyone to take part in the measurement, Jari Syrjärinne says.

In May, HERE’s occupational health physician and Moodmetric’s representative held an info session where they talked about the Moodmetric measurement, its scientific background and how the measurement is linked with HERE’s occupational healthcare. The first measurement group was fully booked immediately after the info.

Great start at HERE

HERE is the first organization where the Moodmetric measurement is done in co-operation with the occupational health. During the two week measurement the participants learn about their stress and recovery levels by following the data on their mobile phone. The participants also get to try how different situations or work tasks show in the stress data. With the tips and advice from the introductory lession, the participants can engage in job crafting to reach better balance with stress and recovery. If the participants notice excessive stress load and suspect chronic stress, they have the opportunity to contact straight the occupational healthcare after the measurement. Objective data enhances the dialogue between the employee and the occupational health physician.

HERE’s first Moodmetric feedback session was in May. The group was happy to hear that they achieved the all time best* Moodmetric group average. – Now it’s really interesting to see what kind of group level stress averages the next two groups will have and do we need to strenghten our stress management skills as an organization. Next summer we will get feedback on how we have succeeded, Jari Syrjärinne concludes.

 

*Moodmetric-measurement is not a competition. “All time best” refers to a value that indicates a good balance of stress and recovery of the measured group. The daily Moodmetric average of 50 indicates a balanced autonomous nervous system.

Do you study stress, customer experience, attention or decision making?

The Moodmetric measurement gives accurate and real time data on cognitive and emotional load of an individual. Use cases below give a snapshot on what kind of research it can be applied to. These are just a handful of examples. Electrodermal activity is a signal with great and for most unused potential in field research.

Stress measurement with Moodmetric

Positive stress is a good thing and when in control, it takes us forward. Chronic stress reduces productivity, creativity and job satisfaction and it is a risk for physical and psychological health. It is not easy to catch signals early and stress might not be detected before it has reached harmful levels.

Questionnaires are subjective and bound to a certain moment. Preventive stress management needs continuous and long term measurement. The Moodmetric ring is intended for weeks and months of use. The mobile app offers a real time view which enables insights that can be actioned immediately.

Even though the Moodmetric measurement is primarily intended for use at occupational health, the real time measurement enables several kinds of research. Below are some example use cases to give a picture of it´s possibilities:

Customer experience

A customer is testing a new shopping center virtually. The center is equipped with innovative implementations, including parking, navigating inside the center, paying in the shops (only mobile payment) etc. The pilot customers´ opinion have a major significance on the final drawings and the pilot is heavily studied. The Moodmetric measurement shows instantly and in real time the pain points – when the experience is getting from smooth to troublesome. The Moodmetric levels increase in seconds when the customer is perplexed.

A much simpler example would be e.g. driving through a car washing lane. How many of the customers actually get terrified inside, with not way of getting out in the middle? Could this be eased out somehow?

The Moodmetric measurement can be used to tracking stress levels in any environment, inside or out in the woods. It suits to observing a person in different situations, like choosing clothes. Which print makes the person react?

Gaming

Mobile and desktop games can be extremely agitating. Chasing, fighting, racing and performing dangerous tasks is enervating. The sympathetic nervous system of the player is active, as the body does not understand that the threat is just an illusion created by the game developer.

A game can also be soothing, like puzzles. Focus is needed but vigilance not.

What kind of a game is yours and what is the target audience? What if you could design games that really calm down the sympathetic nervous system – a game that you could wholeheartedly recommend e.g. for kids with concentration difficulties?

Pay attention! – Study focus with Moodmetric

We make better decisions, our movements are correct and precise, and we make better analysis when we pay attention. Really pay attention by not letting noises, lights, phone, emails or the smell of lunch distract us.

The Moodmetric index of 1 to 100 tells our arousal level. When focused, the level is below 30, in most cases below 20. Full focus on the task at hand might show a steady level of 12 with almost a straight electrodermal activity curve on the Moodmetric mobile app. The person is far from being sleepy (although in the evening at the sofa the numbers might be exactly the same), but fully focused.

This does not necessarily need an isolated environment. Most people can find their way to reach focus no matter the surroundings. But as it is not easy, many companies design spaces and areas inside their offices that enhance concentration.

Sports

What kind of training methods provide the best results? The Moodmetric measurement makes it possible to better understand what level of focus the athlete reaches. Interventions such as mental exercises can tested and found out the ones with the best results for improving concentration. The measurement also provides insights as to when recovery from practice is sufficient. The app diary helps to analyse which activities should be toned down or avoided in order to benefit optimally from training.

 

Interested to know more about the Moodmetric measurement and why the Moodmetric ring is especially well suited to measure electrodermal activity?

Read our recently published articles starting with:

PART 1: Fight or flight response

Applications in research and ongoing projects:

Research

Or contact us directly:
Niina Venho / CEO
niina. [email protected]

PART 4: The Moodmetric ring stress measurement and understanding the data

This article series tell about stress and ways to measure it. Parts 1 and 2 describe the fight or flight reaction and how the body reacts to chronic stress. Methods for long term monitoring are presented in part 3. In this article we explain the Moodmetric ring measurement and how to interpret the data.

The Moodmetric smart ring measures electrodermal activity. It detects skin conductance with the band of the ring that works as electrodes. The band consists of two silver coated steel rings, and an insulator band in between them. 

Electrodes need to get a good contact with an area on skin where the eccrine sweat gland density is high. This varies from 400/cm2 on the palm to about 80/cm2 on the upper arm. A ring form for the Moodmetric sensor has been chosen to reach the best possible accuracy. The measurement point is on the palm side of the finger and at best the signal is unbroken.

The ring measures continuously and stores the data inside the ‘stone’. The mobile app does not need to be on, nor the phone near the ring. When the app is opened and the calendar icon chosen, the ring sends the data to the app via bluetooth connection. The measurement and data storing to the ring continue immediately. The real-time signal can be followed any time with the app.

Research by the Finnish Institute of Occupational health (2015) shows that the signal of the Moodmetric ring is comparable to that of a laboratory device. The ring is applicable for field studies.

The Moodmetric signal is real time

The Moodmetric signal is the violet curve on the mobile app that can be observed real-time. It is the raw measurement signal but auto scaled in order to have the whole amplitude visible even during strong reactions.

The curve enables analysis of single reactions. Even a thought can cause a peak: excitement, idea, awe – each reaction forms a peak within a 1-2 second physiological delay.

Interpreting the raw signal requires expertise in the measurement method and understanding the possible sources of error.

The Moodmetric index is easy to interpret

The electrodermal activity (EDA) raw signal is difficult to interpret and prone to errors. Strong reactions can easily be spotted on the curve,  but mathematical methods are needed for further analysis.

The Moodmetric index or the Moodmetric level has been developed to provide accurate EDA measurement data that is easy to interpret. The algorithms count an index from 1 to 100 so that 1 is the lowest the person can reach. This is possible e.g. in deep sleep. 100 is the maximum arousal, strongest possible reaction of the person. Finding the min and max takes about 12 hours, which is the calibration period. The ring can be re-calibrated e.g. when changing from one user to another.

The Moodmetric index/level tells the activity level of the person at a certain moment, looking at a few minutes´ time window. The level does not indicate single reactions but changes fast if the arousal level of the person increases or decreases rapidly. E.g. increasing is first seen in growing amplitude and raising trend of the Moodmetric curve, then in higher Moodmetric level.

It is easy to get to 100. What is more interesting is to make rehearsals that aim to calm the mind, to get the index as low as possible.

In counting the Moodmetric index, the algorithms minimize the effect of finger’s movement and the skin normal moisture level on the measurement. The index is comparable between users. If two persons are at a same situation it is possible to observe which one is calmer.

There is no momentary optimal value

It is normal that the Moodmetric level fluctuates between 1 and 100 during the day. No momentary value is good or bad.

Important is also to know, that the Moodmetric measurement does not tell whether a reaction is positive or negative. The Moodmetric ring is not an emotion detector.

The fluctuation of stress levels is individual

There are people who react fast and strong, while others respond more calmly. For instance creative people are often very prone to stimulus and they get a lot of new ideas. This can be seen in high Moodmetric levels as well as big fluctuation. A person doing work that requires deep and long concentration might have low Moodmetric levels throughout the working day.

The levels can be high due to excitement and energy, or low due to good focus. All this is positive. The levels might also be high due to pressure and lack of control at work. Low figures in turn can tell of boredom or even depression. The measurement data always needs the ring wearer´s own perception of the situation. No one else can tell whether the 100 on the mobile app tells of excitement or irritation.

A good team is heterogeneous also by the way they react

At workplace it is good to have people with different ways to react. A team with individuals that all have a very mild or a very strong natural way to react, probably is not as productive as a more heterogeneous team.

The Moodmetric measurement helps to understand individuals and personal ways to react. This is important from wellbeing point of view. We should rather challenge ourselves keeping in mind our own physiology and environment, than compare to others.

The Moodmetric daily average level is the most important

The Moodmetric smart ring measures the sympathetic nervous system reactions on a scale from 1 to 100. Counting presumes balance. When the daily average value is around 50, there is enough recovery in correlation to load. The Moodmetric ring users notice the same: the daily average is normally 45 to 55 depending on how well daily load is compensated by rest and sleep.

Levels and fluctuation during the day can be very different between two persons. Both might still feel well and with plenty of energy. If high daily figures are combined with very restful sleep, can the daily average level be the same as with a person with much lower numbers during daytime. 

Below the different persons’ consecutive day and night views, where the daily average for both arrived at 46. In this example both reached good, quite a low average, but with very different daily levels:

The daily average of the Moodmetric index is the more informative, the more the person uses the ring. It is easier to analyse own balance of load and recovery when the ring is worn also during the night.

Feedback from the Moodmetric ring users tells that own perception is in line with the measurement. If the daily average is around 50, the situation and energy levels are normal. Values over 50 for a long time go hand in hand with the feeling of overload and weakened wellbeing. Very low daily figures might indicate depression.

The Moodmetric measurement helps the user to gain balance between load and recovery. The sources of stress and ways to recover are individual. For this reason the measurement data always needs own evaluation. Categorizing and analyzing own life e.g. with the help of the Moodmetric app Diary feature is a way to more balanced life.

The complete set of 5 articles explains the Moodmetric measurement, science behind and the applications:

  1. Part 1: Fight or flight response
  2. Part 2: Chronic stress – The brain concludes that we are continuously in danger
  3. Part 3: Tools for long term and continuous stress measurement
  4. Part 4: The Moodmetric ring stress measurement and understanding the data
  5. Part 5: The Moodmetric measurement in preventive occupational health