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The New Rules of Talent Intelligence (4): Only Ever if They Opt-In

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The New Rules of Talent Intelligence (4): Only Ever if They Opt-In

Here are some situations in which it would be outrageous for people not to have the option to opt-out: In the queue for a rollercoaster...

6 Minutes Read

Here are some situations in which it would be outrageous for people not to have the option to opt-out:

  • In the queue for a rollercoaster when the vertical drop comes into view
  • At the start line of an ultra-marathon when the dodgy curry from last night starts to churn
  • When spotting your blind date for the first time in the cafe and realizing it’s your cousin
  • When your employer is collecting personal data in the workplace

Privacy is not dead. Taking part in data collection in the workplace must always be optional, not mandated. Organizations have a duty to make it clear to the employee at all stages that they can opt-out of data collection efforts.

  • Don’t bury the ‘opt-in’ clause in the joining contract
  • Make the ‘opt-out’ button clear and accessible at all times
  • Let employers ‘check-out’ as well as ‘opt-out’: Give your employees – and all their data and metadata – a delete button

This rule might seem simple, but it’s the ultimate indicator of how successful your Talent Intelligence efforts will be. Instead of an opt-out journey that (hypothetically) involves some complicated, impossible-to-find IT-request form that requires multiple levels of approval; you’ve got to imagine that the ‘opt-out’ button is a big red physical button on the employee’s desk that they can hit at any time.

Organizations must clearly communicate the mutual benefit to encourage workers to take part and stop them from hitting the red button. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to sneak monitoring technology in without anyone noticing… When The Daily Telegraph introduced sensors in 2016 to monitor space usage in its offices, with the goal of reducing its real estate footprint and lowering costs, it was forced to remove them a day later due to widespread unrest among the staff, who “resisted Big Brother-style surveillance in the newsroom.” Red buttons being pressed everywhere.

Once again, it’s about that give-to-get ratio. Make the reward for the employee so compelling that they won’t want to hit that red button. Personal development, quantifiable social skills, increased well-being, more flexible working structures, eradicating nonsense stigmas at work (i.e., “I can’t be seen leaving my desk other than for lunch,” “I’ve got to answer emails from my boss at any time of the day or night,” or “The later I stay, the harder people will think I work”)… these are just examples of the benefits that are on the other side of the coin. Organizations have to focus on these – as much as the benefits to the employer - to stop that red button being pushed.

Finally, it’s not just about giving employees the option to opt out but also ensuring they’re not discriminated against for doing so. Humanyze is an organization that sells badges embedded with infrared, voice and GPS sensors to monitor employee behavior. The company also makes “dummy badges” available for employees who don’t opt-in. Because these look identical to the active badge, workers are not exposed as an “opt out-er.”

Put simply, employees should have a full 360-degree view of the data employers hold on them and the right to delete it at any time. Fail to do this, and you put your company’s reputation – ability to sell and hire - on the line.

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This blog is part of a series on Talent Intelligence and the Big Brother Burden.

In 2018 there was plenty of excitement surrounding the potential of People Analytics. We published our take in Talent Intelligence: Unlocking People Data to Redefine How Humans Need to Work. We believe that Talent Intelligence will be the secret to solving your biggest talent crises:

  • Finding and retaining top talent
  • Fostering productivity, performance and well-being; and diversity and inclusion
  • Driving agile, flexible attitudes toward human-to-human and human-to-machine collaboration that unlocks innovation

But before you can reap the rewards, there’s one big hurdle standing in your way: the Big Brother Burden. We break down the Big Brother Burden into four golden rules for the ethical collection of employee data. Organizations have to play by these rules if they want Talent Intelligence efforts to stick.

In this blog series I’ll take you through the four golden rules in a bit more detail…

  1. Introducing The New Rules
  2. The New Ts&Cs: From Terms & Conditions to Transparency & Clarity. Make the “give-to-get” ratio clear and compelling.
  3. Remember Who Owns the Data. Portability counts. Employees own their data and have a right to download it and take it with them.
  4. Who’s Watching? Individual worker data should rarely be used and only when there’s a real business case for it. Otherwise, aggregate data to ensure anonymity.
  5. Only Ever If They Opt-In. Taking part in data collection in the workplace must always be optional, not mandated.

Dive in to get your data ducks in a row. Only then can you make the most of Talent Intelligence tactics.


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