According to the global report from Accenture, while more than half of Australian C-level executives (55%) said that their organisations were 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 — a quarter (25%) were very confident that they were using the data responsibly.
In addition, more than half (54%) of workers thought that the use of new sources of workforce data risked damaging trust, and 67% said that recent scandals over the misuse of data makes them concerned that their employee data might be at risk too.
According to Accenture, the good news is that 86% of workers 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.
The Accenture report — Decoding Organisational DNA — is based on qualitative and quantitative research, including global surveys of 1400 C-level executives and 10,000 workers across 13 industries.
Accenture said 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.
“At a time when companies in Australia are increasingly using available workforce data to drive greater value, responsible leadership is the key to building employee trust,” said Bob Easton, chairman of Accenture Australia and New Zealand.
“Trust is the ultimate currency – it’s the path to innovation and fuels growth by unlocking people’s potential.”
The response of business leaders to the workforce data challenge varied widely, according to Accenture.
Nearly one-third (29%) of the surveyed Australian executives said they were holding back from investing as much as they would like in workforce data-gathering technologies due to employee sensitivities, while approximately the same number (32%) were investing anyway and figuring out how to do it responsibly as issues arose.
“It is clear that Australians are seeking greater control and transparency over the use of their personal data, evident through the upcoming Consumer Data Right and upcoming banking regulations,” said Easton.
“This also extends into the workplace, however, and it is imperative that executives take a responsible approach to workplace data while achieving new business value, developing stronger digital trust.”
To help ensure that employees’ concerns are met, Accenture recommended the following framework for the responsible use of workforce data:
- Give control and gain trust. By giving employees far more control over their own data, organisations will not only gain their employees’ trust but also benefit from a greater flow of workforce insights with which they can improve performance. Nearly three-fourths (73%) of employees surveyed wanted to own their work-related data and take it with them when they left their jobs – and more than half (55%) of C-level executives were open to allowing them to do so.
- Share responsibility and 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 quarter (24%) of businesses co-create data system designs with employees, although more than one third (39%) planned to do so.
- Elevate people and use tech responsibly. Companies need to use artificial intelligence and other technologies to provide employees with more growth opportunities and improve fairness and diversity. Three in four Australian employees (75%) said that having reliable data gathered by new technologies would improve fairness in pay, promotions and appraisal decisions.
“Trust has evolved from a 'soft' corporate issue to a quantifiable metric with bottom-line impact on revenue and, ultimately, growth through competitive agility,” said Easton. “Today’s leaders must put employee and consumer trust at the heart of their business strategies.”