Haywards Heath recruitment company uses artificial intelligence to monitor workers’ wellbeing

A Haywards Heath recruitment company for the energy sector is using artificial intelligence to support its workers’ health and wellbeing.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 12:49 pm

Hydro Energy Group in Bridge Road, Haywards Heath, has invested in cutting-edge software from San Francisco that learns about the needs of its contractor workforce.

The company specialises in supplying personnel to the renewables, offshore and marine and hydrographic survey markets.

Roles can involve controlling robots and machinery, as well as checking the sea bed for problems before cabling is installed.

From left: Hydro Energy Group's Tom Isham, associate director for offshore and marine, and Ben Burns, CEO. Picture by Steve Robards

CEO Benjamin Burns, 38, said it was important to give workers support for their mental wellbeing, especially if they are working on long-term offshore contracts.

“When someone goes on a contract for us it can be anything from two weeks to six weeks anywhere in the world,” said Ben, who lives in Haywards Heath.

“Imagine you’re on a boat and you’ve been in the ocean, it can be quite a lonely place, especially if you’re away from your family for a period of time.”

Ben said that when someone goes on a contract for Hydro Energy Group, their system is notified and the company sends emails to the contractor at different points of their trip.

Hydro Energy Group CEO Ben Burns. Picture by Steve Robards

These emails ask a series of questions about how the contractor is feeling and how they are getting on in their role.

The AI then looks for key phrases and words, constantly learning and understanding an individual’s terminology while detecting negative emotions, messages or stress signals.

“It gages your responses and updates us accordingly, so we can either act swiftly or know that you’re quite cool and you don’t really need us,” said Ben.

He added that if someone’s answers fall below a certain score the system will flag it up.

Immediate concerns will trigger human contact, said Ben, adding that the technology will help identify areas for improvement and create better work environments.

“We didn’t want it to be completely AI because human-to-human contact is still very important,” Ben said.

“But AI picks up the initial discontent.”

Ben also said that the company sends pre-recorded videos to workers to provide visual stimulation.

“We’re looking at how we can build our Hydro TV,” he said, adding that they have a couple of personal trainers who can do pre-recorded bodyweight sessions to keep workers fit.

“As we know exercise is a big thing,” said Ben.

“I think we all feel that now that we’ve been in lockdown,” he said, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic had made people more aware of mental health issues.

In fact, the new AI technology is just part of a bigger objective, said Ben, explaining that Hydro Energy Group aims to launch a programme about ‘human dynamics’.

The goal of this, he said, is to study the entire life cycle of a human in the workplace and understand their specific needs.

Visit www.hydroeg.com to find out more about the company.