June 22, 2016
A lack of trust is stalling the use of wearables in the workplace as people worry that their employer may use the data against them and not for their benefit. According to new PwC research, despite an estimated 3 million people in the UK buying a wearable device in 2015 – a 118 percent increase from the previous year –employees are still unconvinced about using wearables in the workplace. The research also found that two thirds (65 percent) want their employer to take an active role in their health and wellbeing, and feel that technology should be used to help them do this. But only 46 percent of people surveyed say they would accept a free piece of wearable technology if their employers had access to the data recorded. This is broadly in line with last year’s research, when 44 percent said they would take up this offer.
Even if this information is collected in exchange for workplace benefits, such as flexible working hours and working from different locations, the number of people who would use a wearable device at work rises to only just over half (55 percent). Again, this is broadly the same as last year’s research (56 percent).
In the survey of over 2,000 workers across the UK data privacy is the main barrier for those workers unwilling to share their information. Four in 10 say they don’t fully trust their employer to use it for their benefit and just under two fifths (37 percent) say they don’t trust their employer not to use the data against them in some way.
Anthony Bruce, people analytics leader at PwC, said: “Employers haven’t been able to overcome the ‘big brother’ reaction from people to sharing their personal data.
“Digital tools and analytics advances could be the key to unlocking a more engaged, happy and higher performing workforce – but first employers must gain the trust and confidence of their people to acquire, store and use personal data appropriately. If employers want to overcome the trust gap they need to show that they are serious about data security and communicate openly with their staff about the benefits for them.”
Workers who would be happy to use a wearable device at work are most likely to want to trade their personal data in exchange for flexible working hours, free health screening and health and fitness incentives. 61% of respondents want their employer to help them to become more active.
The younger generation of millennial workers are the most comfortable sharing their personal data with six in 10 (59 percent) happy to use a work-supplied smartwatch and this rises to seven in 10 if they’re getting a better work deal in return. This compares to only three in 10 of workers aged 55 and over.
Technology such as a virtual reality headset, that doesn’t require the sharing of personal information but does offer benefits to workers such as facilitating collaboration whilst working from home, would be attractive to almost half of the workforce and six out of ten millennials.
Bruce continued: “Workers are keen for their employers to play a more active role in health and wellbeing, but there is currently a reluctance to share the personal information that would enable employers to do this.
“Younger workers are much more willing to trade their personal data in return for workplace benefits. Given the war for talent, organisations should be thinking about how attractive their benefits and workplace technology is to this next generation of workers.”