Workforce data has promise and a good bit of peril, says Accenture

The good news is that employees are open to companies collecting data on them if it'll improve their well being and productivity. The bad news is that employees are worried about privacy and misuse and enterprises are too.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

People analytics and leveraging workforce data are becoming more popular, but there are pitfalls and employees are open to more data collection, but also wary, according to an Accenture report.

The Accenture study, timed with the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, found that 62 percent of businesses are using technologies to analyze workforce data, but only 30 percent of executives are confident they are doing so responsibly. Accenture surveyed 10,000 workers and 1,400 C-level executives across 13 industries in 13 countries.

As for employees, Accenture found that 92 percent of workers are open to the collection of data on them and their work, but want something in return. Notably, workers want improvements in their productivity, wellbeing and other benefits.

Sixty-four percent of workers said misuse of data was their biggest concern. Accenture noted that 70 percent of workers said they want to have control on how employers use their data and 73 percent noted that they would want data portability when they left a company. A bit more than half of CXOs (56 percent) would be open to allowing people to take their work-related data with them.

Accenture also reckons that there is real money at stake. The successful use of workforce data could equate to as much as 6.4 percent of future revenue growth. Should a company screw up their workforce data use and lose the trust of employees a business could lose 6.1 percent in future revenue growth. That 12.5 percent revenue swing should get C-level attention for workforce data, said Accenture.

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The catch is that 31 percent of business leaders say employee concerns are holding them back from investing in workforce data. Another 32 percent are investing it workforce data and will handle issues as they arise.

Given the risk in workforce data and people analytics, why would enterprises invest heavily? Accenture found the following:

  • 77 percent of businesses said workforce data would help them grow.
  • 76 percent cited agility and efficiency.
  • CXOs generally want to put the right people in the right roles.

Accenture's framework for collecting and managing workforce data revolves around cultivating trust, developing privacy features, co-creating systems that account for arts and humanities, reducing bias and using AI to expand opportunities.

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