Would you give up your personal data for a better work experience?

My wife and I do our food shopping online. It’s quick, relatively painless and the supermarket that we use remembers our preferences; the things that we like and choose most often. They helpfully use this information to send us deals and offers that they know we’re likely to use. And now it looks like this type of data profiling, gleaned from people’s online and social media activity and used by a lot of retailers and advertisers could soon become the norm at work too.

Of the 10,000 people that we surveyed globally for our report: ‘The future of work: A journey to 2022’, nearly a third said they would be happy for their employer to have access to their personal data, such as social media profiles. In fact, employees are more open to sharing their personal data than we previously thought. And given that the millennial generation of workers are particularly happy to share their data, this kind of data monitoring by organisations could become routine in the years to come.

So how could employers use this information? Organisations could soon start using workers’ personal data (with their permission) to measure and anticipate performance and retention issues. This sort of data profiling could also extend to real-time monitoring of employees’ health, with proactive health guidance to help reduce sick leave.

HR teams are already gearing up for these changes and are increasingly using data analytics to spot retention and performance issues. The main challenge will be convincing employees that the price of handing over their data and monitoring is one worth paying, so it will be key for employers to develop measurable benefits for those who hand over their data. Building trust through clear rules about how data is acquired, used and shared will also be critical.

Technology will continue to transform how we will work over the next decade. The majority of workers (64%) will embrace these changes, seeing technological advances as improving their job prospects. But organisations need to be mindful of the potential disruption to people’s lives and bear in mind that some of the workforce will be concerned about the impact that technology could have on their jobs. For example, a quarter of workers are worried that automation is putting their job at risk. These types of changes are already being factored into future planning by some organisations - 58% of HR professionals said they are already preparing for this shift, while a further quarter said they were already prepared.

As we’ve talked about in a few other blog posts, digital transformation is also disrupting the traditional nine to five office environment as people are now contactable 24/7. While this shift brings some people the flexibility they desire, to others it represents their work-life balance being invaded. Managers need to develop a clear culture where technology works for everyone. This isn’t about having a blanket approach, it’s about creating the right culture so people can use technology to enhance their lives but also have control about when they choose to do so.

Anthony Bruce | Partner
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