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Employees’ personal data could transform HR

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employee's personnel fileBig data will soon become an important part of the HR toolkit, according to a new report by the PwC consulting firm, bringing to workforce management the kind of data profiling many businesses currently use to zero in on customers.

That may make privacy advocates squirm, but PwC says many workers, especially young ones, won’t mind.

“Just as advertisers and retailers are using data from customers’ online and social media activity to tailor their shopping experience, organizations could soon start using workers’ personal data—with their permission—to measure and anticipate performance and retention issues,” said Anthony Bruce, HR analytics leader at PwC.

The report—titled “The future of work: A journey to 2022” and based on surveys of 10,000 workers and 500 HR pros—reveals that nearly a third of employees would gladly grant employers access to their personal data, such as social media profiles.

Employers in turn could use the data to understand what motivates workers, why employees change jobs and how to improve work processes and worker well-being.

Another perhaps more dystopian use: Real-time monitoring of employees’ health, with proactive health advice to help reduce absenteeism.

Demographic changes will lead to greater acceptance of data monitoring. Generation Y will be fully integrated into the workforce in 10 years. That cohort, PwC researchers say, is more open to handing over personal data to employers. In fact, 36% of Gen Y workers said they would be happy to do so.

Over half (58%) of HR professionals said they are preparing for the big data shift. The key is assuring employees that personal information will be acquired, shared and otherwise handled with care.

“The main challenge for organizations will be convincing employees that the price of handing over their data and monitoring is one worth paying,” Bruce said.

Download a copy of the report.

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