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‘Employees prefer robots over people for mental health support’

by Marco van der Hoeven

Employee talent management solution Flashbrand has introduced “AICO,” an AI-based professional coach for employees. According to Flashbrand AICO ‘represents a new wave of artificial intelligence platforms that seek to augment humans at work, providing the ability to scale successfully with private mental health recommendations, personalized career development guidance and coaching’.

In developing and launching AICO, Flashbrand says it democratizes executive coaching, traditionally reserved for select members of upper-level management. Serving as a private coach for each employee, AICO is meant to proactively track performance and personal kpis, alerting and helping employees better manage their time and priorities. The AI coach also helps each employee with skills development, detecting and analyzing their strengths and opportunities for improvement, proactively recommending a personalized roadmap and sending tailored training content.

Break the traditional HR mold

“In building AICO, we wanted to break the traditional HR mold that only allows select management executives to benefit from executive coaching. With AICO, we are redefining professional development and extending executive coaching beyond the C-Suite. We strongly believe that every employee is worthy of and deserves executive-level, personalized coaching,” said Denis Descause, Founder & CEO of Flashbrand, “and AI coaching is the only accessible way to reach that goal.”

Flashbrand says it is using AI at the service of every employee in a private way, sidestepping comments or concerns of built-in biases, as it makes no comparisons or segmenting among employees nor is it used for hiring or promotions. According to the maker the interaction with AICO is completely private: every employee is in full control of their data and the company has no visibility into it.


A recent global study by Workplace Intelligence that examines AI at work found that 82% of people believe robots can better support their mental health than humans. Further, 68% of people would prefer to talk to a robot over their manager about stress and anxiety at work.

AICO uses artificial intelligence technology, including sentiment analysis across video, voice and text. After analyzing the language, words, sentiments, facial expressions, and texts of an employee, AICO avoids guessing and asks direct questions to confirm how employees feel. By analyzing the text and sentiments of hundreds of thousands of employees’ anonymous feedback, Flashbrand also provides a direct channel between employees and top management.


“We recognized that employees feel more comfortable sharing their personal feelings with a robot counselor rather than their managers because robots are impartial and don’t judge. Flashbrand is addressing this vital coaching gap, harnessing AI technology for the benefit of our enterprise customers and their employees,” said Denis Descause, Founder & CEO of Flashbrand.

“We are currently working on integrating the mechanisms for recognizing emotions in voice and facial expression into AICO, and enabling sensory enrichment,” added Denis Descause. “As for the vast majority of people, it is easier to open up to a robot than to a human, then it is easier to help him in his development and the resolution of his difficulties thanks to AICO. Our goal is to leverage artificial intelligence in its knowledge of the employee to provide the best possible support, while ensuring complete confidentiality in discussions with AICO.”

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