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Responsible use of staff data could boost revenues by 12.5%

Neither employees nor leaders are confident they’re collecting employee data ethically, meaning they could be missing out on substantial revenue growth, according to Accenture

The Accenture Strategy report, Decoding Organisational DNA, found that while the majority of businesses are using new technologies to collect such data, employee trust in their employers’ use of their data is low.

Half (50%) of workers surveyed said they think the use of new sources of workforce data risks damaging trust, while 61% said that recent scandals over data misuse make them concerned that their employee data might be at risk too.

The report stated that, globally, US$3.1 trillion (£2.4 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% higher than that of companies that fail to adopt responsible data strategies, the report found.

Accenture found that 89% of workers are open to data being collected on them and their work, but only if it improves their performance or wellbeing, or provides other personal benefits. More than half of workers (57%) would exchange their work-related data for more customised compensation, rewards and benefits offerings, and 53% would do so for more customised learning and development opportunities.

Employers are also concerned about the use of data, with only around a third (29%) of C-level executives saying they are confident they use employee data ethically. Additionally, a third (33%) said they are holding back from investing as much as they would like in workforce data-gathering technologies because of employee sensitivities, while 35% said they are investing anyway and figuring out how to do it responsibly as issues arise.

Accenture recommended employers give their workforces greater control over their own data, with 70% of employees surveyed wanting to own their work-related data and take it with them when they leave their jobs.

Companies need to use artificial intelligence and other technologies to provide employees with more growth opportunities and improve fairness and diversity, the report stated. More than three-quarters (77%) of executives surveyed said that having reliable data gathered by new technologies will improve fairness in pay, promotions and appraisal decisions.

Andy Young, financial services talent and organisation lead at Accenture, said the research shows employers have not yet worked out how to establish trust among employees when it comes to technology.

“Business faces the same digital trust challenge for employees as it does for consumers. Using workforce data can unlock value for businesses and their employees but needs to be approached responsibly, for mutual gain, and with the goal of building trust,” he said.

“Yet our research shows many executives and HR teams are unclear on how to handle workforce data and are only just starting to get to grips with how to establish digital trust. To build digital trust with workers there are proactive steps leaders can take. For instance: by sharing accountability for workforce data and giving employees greater control and visibility. Our research shows employees are open to their data being gathered and used when the purpose is clear and mutually beneficial.”

Accenture combined quantitative and qualitative research techniques to understand and measure the attitudes and readiness of workers and C-suite executives regarding the use of workforce data, and modelled the effects of collecting this data on employee-employer trust. The research included surveys of 10,000 workers and 1,400 C-suite executives across 13 industries.