How would you feel if your employer installed software on your work desktop to measure your well-being? Spied on or cared for?

Sonas, an enterprise that specialises in workplace well-being solutions, has created just such a digital tool. Named CASPER, it blends technology and Experience-Sampling Methodology (ESM) to create a solution that measures well-being in the workplace.

No need to feel creeped out, though. For while CASPER aims to boost workplace well-being and productivity, it also enables employee self-reflection. Pre-piloting shows that even sceptical employees are won over when they start using the tool.

“It’s not just something for management,” says Alena Rogozhkina, founder of Sonas. “People also want to benchmark themselves.”

Ms Rogozhkina, who hails from Moscow, set up Sonas in spring 2018, having begun work on the concept after completing a Masters in behavioural science at the University of Stirling. Her experience of working in human resources management (HRM) at a large industrial company in Russia motivated her to take the additional qualification – she took her first degree in HRM – and ultimately to set up Sonas.

“I had been trained hard in how to improve people’s lives at work, but I found there were not enough tools,” she says.

At Stirling, she envisaged working at another large company after finishing her degree. However, when she took part in a student entrepreneur programme and shared her “passion for making people feel better at work”, she saw the potential to start her own business.

Sonas offers a range of services that apply behavioural science to workplace well-being, but CASPER is its core product. Ms Rogozhkina developed this with co-founder and software developer Illia Rogozhkin, who is also her brother. Currently, the siblings work with two interns and have partnerships with several people “from the ecosystem in Scotland” who support the business.

“They are more like advisers or mentors,” says Ms Rogozhkina.

She believes that CASPER offers employers that want to measure workplace well-being something that other solutions do not. Typically, employers use surveys to measure well-being, but they have limitations.

“They are a good tool to see a general pattern but not enough to go deeper,” says Ms Rogozhkina.

CASPER uses ESM to gather multiple data points. The typical sampling period is 10 days, during which time employees receive random notifications throughout the day that prompt them to answer questions. There are then two levels of reporting: one to employees, who see their own data, and one to the employer, which sees a detailed report on well-being and productivity split between internal and external factors.

The next step for Sonas is to embed artificial intelligence in the tool. This will both make it more scalable and allow it to suggest suitable interventions to companies – something they need in today’s job market.

“If you want to attract and retain the right people, you need to think about well-being,” says Ms Rogozhkina.

That being the case, there is plenty of competition for CASPER. However, Ms Rogozhkina believes it is unique in applying behavioural science to workplace well-being. This enables it to explore the nuanced area of emotional well-being and address issues such as work overload and procrastination.

“That is our core focus, and we want to link it to productivity,” says Ms Rogozhkina.

Assisted by the RBS Entrepreneur Accelerator programme, which has helped with number crunching and introductions, she now plans to scale up and expand internationally. Having bootstrapped the project thus far, she is seeking both early adopters and private investors with a view to launching in spring 2020.

“We’re preparing our investor pitch,” she says.