Are you happy with your employer watching your every move?

2 minute read

Employees do not mind data collection related to concrete business aspects but are opposed to being monitored through personal sources, finds research from HR Metrics & Analytics Summit

Sian Harrington

Monitoring employees

Employees are generally happy to be monitored through workplace-related tasks, work email accounts and work phones but beware if you start snooping on their private social media accounts, physical movements within the workplace or personal interactions.

According to an anonymous survey of 100 full-time employees by the HR Metrics & Analytics Summit, 79% accept their employer monitoring workplace-related tasks and 77% their work email account. But nearly three-quarters (72%) find it unacceptable for employers to monitor private social media accounts and 49% to check data through employer-provided health devices, such as Fitbits. More than half of respondents said they would object if their employer asked them to wear ‘wearable’ technology to track their physical movements in the workplace.

Employees are also concerned to know their data is secure against hacking and theft, as well as wanting their employer to be transparent on what data is being collecting. The bad news is that nearly half do not trust their company to protect their data. Insecure software in the workplace, incompetent IT departments, previously misplaced data (by the employer), and zero transparency regarding how their data is protected were cited as the main reasons for this.

When asked what benefits arising from data collection would have the most significance for them, a better-designed workplace came top, with 21% seeing this as the core benefit, while employee retention/promotion and more favourable employee incentives were also seen as beneficial.

Workforce analytics maturity

However, a sister survey of 150 HR leaders finds that employees may not have to worry too much about how their employers are using their data yet, for only a third of HR leaders are using analytics in any active sense while 14% are rarely using any data to inform their HR decisions.

Just over a quarter (27%) of respondents to the survey said they used data reactively, typically via ad hoc reporting, to inform only critical workforce decisions, while 25% said they used data actively, usually via operational reporting.

Workforce analytics maturity

One in five HR leaders makes active predictions about their workforce using dashboards and visuals that contain predictive analytics, while 15% analyse the workforce actively using up-to-date and on-demand dashboards.

“While a handful of (mostly large) trailblazing companies are successfully using analytics, relatively few are using analytics well. As a must-have capability in today’s business climate, organisations must work to improve how they analyse their data, say the report’s authors.

Lack of adequate investment in necessary HR and talent analytical systems is the biggest obstacle to the effective use of data, metrics and analytics followed by ‘inaccurate, inconsistent, or hard-to-access data requiring too much manual manipulation’.

Impact of analytics

Where analytics are being used, respondents identified a number of areas where they are making impact. These include in the areas of workforce planning, employee engagement, career development and forecasting.

The HR Metrics & Analytics Summit surveyed 150+ HR leaders across a wide range of industries to gain an understanding of the current state of people analytics.

Published 9 January 2019
Enjoyed this story?
Sign up for our newsletter here.