Responsible Use of Workforce Data Can Boost Employee Trust: Study

by CXOtoday News Desk    Jan 24, 2019

data

Business leaders will need to implement responsible workforce data strategies if they are to build the employee trust that will help generate sustained revenue growth, according to a new report from Accenture.

The Accenture Strategy report, “Decoding Organizational DNA,” is based on qualitative and quantitative research, including global surveys of 1,400 C-level executives and 10,000 workers across 13 industries including 100 C-level executives and 750 workers from India. 

Among the key findings: While more than five in 10 C-level executives (51 percent) from India said that their organizations are using new technologies to collect data on their people and their work to gain more actionable insights — from the quality of work and the way people collaborate to their safety and well-being — fewer than one-third (31 percent) are very confident that they are using the data responsibly.

In addition, three-fourth (74 percent) of Indian workers think that the use of new sources of workforce data risks damaging trust, and 80 percent said that recent scandals over the misuse of data makes them concerned that their employee data might be at risk too. The good news is that almost all Indian workers (99 percent) are open to the collection of data on them and their work, but only if it improves their performance or well-being or provides other personal benefits. Three-fourth of them (75 percent) would exchange their work-related data for more-customized compensation, rewards and benefits, and 88 percent would do so for more customized learning and development opportunities.

The report shows that, globally, US$3.1 trillion of future revenue growth is at stake for large companies, depending on how their workforce data strategies affect employee trust. Companies that put in place responsible data strategies could see revenue growth up to 12.5 percent higher than that of companies that fail to adopt responsible data strategies.

The response of business leaders to the workforce data challenge varies widely. More than one-third (35 percent) of the surveyed Indian executives said they are holding back from investing as much as they would like in workforce data-gathering technologies due to employee sensitivities, while approximately the same number (33 percent) are investing anyway and figuring out how to do it responsibly as issues arise.

“It’s clear that in the digital economy, workforce data offers enormous opportunities to create more innovative, agile and productive organizations. Yet related ethics and privacy issues can erode employee trust, and negatively impact organization value and performance,” said Anindya Basu, geographic unit and country senior managing director, Accenture in India. 

“Our research shows that employees at large are open to sharing their data as long as it is collected and used responsibly. Business leaders who respect this and put in place the right framework and guardrails will emerge winners and enjoy a trust dividend of as much as a 6.4 percent increase in future revenue growth,” Basu added.

A Framework for Responsible Use of Workforce Data

To help ensure that employees’ concerns are met, Accenture recommends the following framework for the responsible use of workforce data: 

- Give Control. Gain Trust. By giving employees far more control over their own data, organizations will not only gain their employees’ trust but also benefit from a greater flow of workforce insights with which they can improve performance. Nearly nine out of 10 Indian employees (89 percent) surveyed want to own their work-related data and take it with them when they leave their jobs — and 38 percent of C-level executives are open to allowing them to do so.

- Share Responsibility. Share Benefits. To create benefits for all, leaders must share responsibility across the C-suite and involve employees in the design of workforce data systems. Today, fewer than one-fourth (25 percent) of Indian businesses co-create data system designs with employees, although 28 percent plan to do so.

- Elevate People. Use Tech Responsibly. Companies need to use artificial intelligence and other technologies to provide employees with more growth opportunities and improve fairness and diversity. Almost all Indian employees (98 percent) said that having reliable data gathered by new technologies will improve fairness in pay, promotions and appraisal decisions.  

“Being transparent about the use of technology to collect data, and asking for consent when possible and appropriate, is an important part of ensuring employee trust. Yet it isn’t enough,” said Sunit Sinha, a managing director at Accenture who leads the company’s Talent and Organization practice in India. “To elevate employee trust, organizations need to give employees a degree of control over the use of data. It is important to engage people in the design of data collection systems, establish the right governance structures, and offering employees the ability to opt-in.”