Half of people would use a workplace smartwatch – PwC research

Published at 10:00 AM on 10 April 2015

New research from PwC shows that more than half of employees would consider wearing a smartwatch from their employer if their data was used to improve things such as working hours, stress levels and where they can work from.

PwC’s research with over 2,000 working UK adults shows that four in 10 people would use wearable technology from their employer, with this number rising to over half (56%) if people know the information will be used to improve their wellbeing at work.

Flexible working hours, free health screening and health and fitness incentives are the benefits people are most willing to share their personal data for.

The younger generation of millennial workers (born between 1980 - 1995) are the most comfortable sharing their personal data from a smartwatch. Despite privacy concerns, six in 10 would be happy to use a work-supplied smartwatch and this rises to seven in 10 if they’re getting a better work deal in return.  

Interestingly, Generation X workers (born between 1960 and 1980) can be persuaded to use a smartwatch, but only on condition of a better work deal. Only 38% of this generation would accept a piece of wearable technology from their employer in exchange for sharing their data, but this rises to over half (51%) if the data is being collected to improve work conditions. People aged over 55 are the most sceptical, with 40% willing to take up this offer.

The report reveals that trust is the main barrier to people being willing to share their personal data with their employer. For those people who opted for none of the benefits on offer in exchange for their data, two fifths (41%) said they don’t trust their employer not to use the data against them in some way and a similar amount (40%) said they don’t trust their employer to use the data for their benefit.

Anthony Bruce, People analytics leader at PwC, said:

“Many workers still have an understandable “big brother” reaction to sharing any of their personal data with their employers, but our research shows that most people can be persuaded if they can see clear personal or workplace benefits. People are also more open to the idea if the data is anonymised and shared at an aggregate level, rather than being personalised.

“Giving employees wearable devices could be a innovative and powerful way for organisations to better understand their workforce and tailor working patterns, benefits and office life to their individual needs; ultimately leading to more engaged, happy and higher performing employees.”

Jon Andrews, HR Consulting Leader at PwC, said:

“The key to success for organisations and employees will be ensuring they have the trust of their people by setting clear rules about how the data is acquired, used and shared.”

“The way that employers communicate what they are doing with their staff and the benefits they can offer will be a good starting point in helping to fill the trust gap. At the same time, employers need to ensure they are keeping that data secure and managing it responsibly.

Yann Bonduelle, Data Analytics partner at PwC, added:

“Organisations have more data than ever before. The challenge is to generate real insights from it. The tools now available to help gather and analyse data offer employers a genuine opportunity to help manage and motivate people.”


Notes to editor

  1. PwC surveyed 2,023 working adults in the UK between 16th and 21st January 2015.
  2. Some of the open ended responses to the idea from the survey respondents are included below:

 “If the employer used this information in a respectful manner and discussed with you at regular intervals, then [I] may be more willing.”

“An accurate way of collecting and using data…but it can feel like being watched a bit like big brother.”

“Good idea, help to see who is working or just sitting around.”

 For further information contact Claire Truscott, media relations, 0207 213 3688


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