Employee data collection raises ethics concerns for employers
- A sizable number of organizations (80%) use employee records and data to measure performance, according to a new study from HR Metrics & Analytics Summit. The study found that many employers also use employee data to measure turnover, retention, recruitment and engagement — but that employees believe this is appropriate only to a certain point.
- Study results show that employees don't object to being monitored for work-related tasks, including business email correspondence and phone calls. However, 72% object to being monitored on social media, when interacting personally and while moving around the workplace. When asked whether they trusted their organization to protect their data, employees were nearly split in their responses, with 52% saying yes and 48% disagreeing.
- Employees were more divided in their responses about whether they would agree to wearable time-tracking devices. Half (50%) said they would object to being tracked by a wearable, 28% said they wouldn't mind and 16% said they weren't sure. Tiffany Ramirez, content editor of IQPC's HR Metrics & Analytics Summit, said that collecting data on employees raises ethical concerns about data security. Most HR managers in the study (85%) have privacy and security guidelines on what employee data is collected, how it's stored and whether it's used appropriately, but around 15% have no guidelines.
HR needs to set a data ethics policy on what information can be collected and how to store and use it appropriately, experts have told HR Dive. As HR tech grows in popularity and data is more easily collected, HR may need to reconsider how and why it uses such data and continually audit its usage to ensure employee trust.
Employees respond poorly to attempts to track them on ostensibly private platforms because they likely don't understand the purpose or use of such data. Trust is a huge aspect of workplace tech adoption, not just data gathering; if an employee doesn't trust the employer or its intentions, tech adoption will hit roadblocks and create engagement issues, rather than solve them.
These issues will likely only get more complex with time. The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its broad-reaching data protection requirements give employees the right to know what information is being collected on them, how it will be used, how long it will be stored and where it goes. The expansion of data privacy rights could become yet another challenge for employers, especially if other countries consider their own sets of regulations. Still, having reliable systems in place to manage data is a major first step in ethical data management.
- HR Metrics & Analytics Summit Your Employer May Be Watching Your Every Move: Employees Find Workplace Monitoring Objectionable, Says New Survey