Business leaders will need to implement responsible workforce data strategies if they are to build the employee trust that will help generate sustained revenue growth, according to a new report from Accenture.

The Accenture Strategy report, “Decoding Organisational DNA,” is based on qualitative and quantitative research, including global surveys of 1,400 C-level executives and 10,000 workers across 13 industries.

According to the study findings, while more than six in 10 C-level executives (62 per cent) said that their organisations are 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 — fewer than one-third (30 per cent) are very confident that they are using the data responsibly.

In addition, more than half (52 per cent) of workers think that the use of new sources of workforce data risks damaging trust, and 64 per cent said that recent scandals over the misuse of data makes them concerned that their employee data might be at risk too.

The good news is that 92 per cent 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.

More than six in 10 workers (62 per cent) would exchange their work-related data for more-customized compensation, rewards and benefits, and 61 per cent would do so for more customized learning and development opportunities.

The report shows that, globally, US$3.1 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 per cent higher than that of companies that fail to adopt responsible data strategies.

“At a time when companies are using newly available workforce data to drive greater value, responsible leadership is the key to building employee trust,” said Ellyn Shook, Accenture’s chief leadership and human resources officer.

“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 varies widely. Nearly one-third (31 per cent) of the surveyed executives said they are 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 per cent) are investing anyway and figuring out how to do it responsibly as issues arise.

Eva-Sage Gavin, who leads Accenture’s Talent & Organisation practice globally said, “Executives are entering a new era of workforce data without sufficient tools and strategies to help them drive revenue growth through developing stronger digital trust.”

“But business leaders can take proactive steps that improve the potential of workers while achieving new business value. They can share accountability for the use of workforce data, co-create new systems with employees and give their people more control over their own data,” Gavin said.

“This responsible approach will strengthen the resilience and agility of workforces and help CEOs navigate disruption at a time of intense competition and volatility.”

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