Hiring / HR / Partnerships / Startups

Sickweather aims to help HR managers get ahead of what’s going around

The illness-tracking company is piloting technology to predict sick days with employee benefits company Unum.

Graham Dodge. (Courtesy photo)

In the midst of cold and flu season, Sickweather has a new option to provide its illness-tracking technology for company managers looking for info that could indicate employees will be calling out.

The startup uses social media and other data to provide forecasts about illnesses that are going around in specific areas. Now it’s applying the tools to help human resources departments as they seek to get ahead of sick days.

“We created a whole new model that takes into account the company’s historic unplanned absences with an understanding of how many of those could be explained by illness, and then projects unplanned absences based on current scheduled absences and known illness activity for their area,” said CEO Graham Dodge.

Supplemental insurance provider Unum, which itself has more than 10,000 employees, is currently signed on to pilot the tool, Dodge said. The two companies met at an event focused around insurance tech at Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley last year.

“The benefit of this integration is removing some of the guesswork to ensure a workplace is staffed as efficiently as possible every day.” Susan Stowell, Unum’s assistant vice president for workforce solutions and healthcare segment leader, said in a statement. “Managers and HR departments now have more insight into when unplanned absences may occur, so staffing modifications can be made in advance.”

While it’s always advised to stay home if you’re sick for the sake of yourself and coworkers, employers do grapple with lost productivity during the winter months. Sickweather cites nationwide data from the Centers for Disease Control showing 17 million lost workdays due to the flu and an estimated cost of $7 billion in sick days and lost productivity. In companies with large numbers of employees, being able to use data could help take even small steps to make operations could make a difference, according to the startup.

Employers using the service can log onto a dashboard, and get weekly email updates. These show how a percent increase of predicted unplanned absences in a period of weeks, and a map of illness activity in their area organized by postal code.

There’s no tool specifically for employees, but the companies can opt to promote Sickweather as a wellness tool.

The startup, which has operations in Baltimore and Kansas City, is also looking to add to its data science team with the new tool, with a specific interest in candidates familiar with R statistical software.

Companies: Sickweather
People: Graham Dodge

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