Employee data: How much do we know about what our workplace knows about us?
A new analysis of the use of employee data and data ethics in the financial sector sheds new light on the potential to be gained and the challenges faced by the sector when technology and data enter the managerial space.
Being one of the most digitalised and regulated sectors in Denmark, the financial sector has often taken the lead in ensuring high security and responsibility as part of the digital development, in the sector and in society alike.
Digitalisation also plays a key role in most Danes' working lives. Every day, employees and managers leave digital footprints revealing who we are, how we work, when we work and with whom. These footprints are called employee data.
Data is everywhere – even in the space between employee and workplace
Employee data therefore constitutes all types of digital footprints left by an employee in connection with an application, a current or a former employment relationship. It may be data provided by ourselves or others. It may, for example, be data from systems or equipment we use for work or surround ourselves with, and data from external sources (social media or public registers).
Employee data may potentially be used to assess who should be hired, promoted, given pay rises or let go. It may also be used to improve employee satisfaction and the working environment, assign tasks and streamline work processes. Especially abroad, we see a worrying tendency of organisations implementing new technologies or software to monitor and control employees.
Grey areas call for data ethics debate
Although a number of regulatory measures are already in place ensuring great safety and security in terms of data and new technologies in the workplace (the Danish Working Environment Act, GDRP, the Danish Data Protection Act , etc.), the rapid technological development demands that we have a debate about the dilemmas posed by the grey areas of rules and regulations, and how to ensure responsible data-driven workplaces.
This calls for increased focus on data ethics in the workplace.
As a consequence, Finansforbundet has carried out a comprehensive analysis of employee data and data ethics in the sector to ensure that we are at the forefront of the challenges posed and opportunities offered to Finansforbundet’s members, and society at large, by the increased use of data and technology in a work context.
Overall, companies are believed to have data ethics under control,
but few have actual insight into the content or know who is responsible for data ethics in the companies
Knowledge of data ethics
is typically related to the company's processing of customer data and GDPR compliance
When looking ahead, employees worry more
While one in three is worried today, every second employee is worried about the future.
9 out of 10 find it
important that both managers and employees are familiar with data ethics in the workplace, and that responsibility for the area is assigned to a specific party
3 out of 4
have limited or no knowledge of what data about the employee is registered or used by the company
Trust and insight go together
There is a correlation between the level of insight and how positive employees are in relation to specific technologies and the use of their data
Tekst Why focus on employee data?
- We know very little about, and not much attention is paid to, the employee-side of data ethics or data and algorithm management – neither in the sector and the companies nor in the ongoing debate on data ethics and labour rules.
- All major Danish companies are from 2021 legally required to provide an account of the company's data ethics policy in the annual management's review
- Ordinary employees (who do not work specifically with the topic) know the least about the use of data. Even a large proportion of managers with personnel responsibility only have limited knowledge about the registration and use of data.
How is data used?
- Most employees in the financial sector know that companies collect data. Most members are convinced that their data is only used for legitimate purposes, for example in accordance with the statutory data requirements related to anti-money laundering.
- The general attitude towards companies’ registration and use of employee data to improve, for example, company processes, working environment and efficiency is largely positive. Managers are more positive than the employees.
- Employee data registered in connection with recruitment is rarely used for other purposes than relevant operational aspects such as payroll. When competence and education data are used, it is typically in connection with job rotation and appraisal reviews.