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What does your workplace actually know about you? “We haven’t taken this area seriously”

Last Monday, Finansforbundet participated in the issue of new recommendations on the responsible handling of employee data. “We must develop a common language and culture to speak about data in our professional lives,” says Vice President Steen Lund Olsen.

5. Dec 2023
5 min
English / Dansk

Last Monday, Finansforbundet jointly with central players in the labour market issued four recommendations on the responsible collection and use of employee data.

The recommendations were presented at an event at Børsen, the Old Stock Exchange, Copenhagen, where the Danish Data Ethics Council, the Danish Society of Engineers (IDA), Forsikringsforbundet and Finansforbundet and others participated.

In the closing panel discussion, Vice President Steen Lund Olsen highlighted the importance of the subject with these words:

“What matters is how you, as a manager, approach the question of data – are you respecting the individual’s freedom, privacy and the relation of trust between the parties?”

80 per cent do not know what the data are used for

While many managers believe they have informed their employees about the data usage, several analyses indicate that it is not necessarily so.

In a survey from Finansforbundet, more than 80 per cent responded saying they do not know what kind of data is used, including how, by whom and for what purpose it is used.

This confirms an apparent discrepancy between what managers experience having discussed with their employees and what employees experience having discussed with their manager.

“The bottom line is that we haven't taken this area seriously. We haven’t adapted to that part of the technological reality. We haven’t developed a language, procedures or taken any real stance on data in a work context,” he emphasises.

During the panel discussion, he highlighted that, over an extended period, and most recently during collective bargaining, Finansforbundet has advocated the need for putting the responsible use of employee data on the agenda.

A wider public debate on the matter could fuel this ambition, said Steen Lund Olsen, who was pleased to present the recommendations along with both the employer side and employee side.

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Four out of five workplaces collect data about their employees

Many workplaces face technical, ethical and legal challenges with respect to the ever-increasing collection and use of employee data.

All sorts of employee data are collected, covering data on job satisfaction, health, location and much more via apps, software, surveys and other digital tools.

Today, roughly four out of five workplaces in Denmark collect and use employee data according to a Danish survey examining data collection at work carried out by the Think Tank Mandag Morgen (Monday Morning) in collaboration with Finansforbundet and others.

Employee data may be used positively to support, for example, efficiency, well-being, skills development and innovation or to better the working environment or prevent stress.

But the use of data also brings along ethical and legal questions in relation to, for instance, the individual’s personal and sensitive information, including monitoring.

“We need the workplaces to facilitate an open, constructive and proper dialogue about the collection and use of employee data,” says Steen Lund Olsen.

“We must develop a common language and culture to speak about data in our professional lives.”

If we are to realise the potential of using employee data, we need to focus on how to handle employee data in a responsible way that will resonate well with both managers and employees at the workplaces,” continued Steen Lund Olsen.


The recommendations are the result of a workshop with selected players in the area, including representatives of the social partners, and discussions in the project’s partner group, allowing for the inclusion of different perspectives to ensure a broad and nuanced approach.

The recommendations are also based on the results of two surveys carried out in 2022 and 2023 on the collection and use of employee data that shed light on the perspectives of both employees and managers on the use of employee data.

Four concrete recommendations

The recommendations aim to support workplaces in their digitalisation and data handling efforts and to ensure that both managers and employees are equipped to make informed decisions about data.

They serve as inspiration, are not legally binding and focus on transparency, skills, communication and data ethics.

Behind the recommendations are the ADD-project, the Think Tank Mandag Morgen (Monday Morning), IDA and other relevant organisations. They emphasise the importance of responsibility and transparency in data handling.

The four recommendations are:

Recommendation 1. Enhance trust and transparency through clear allocation of responsibilities and data understanding at the workplace.

It is recommended that:

  • the workplace ensures that managers and employees have relevant information on the functions and limitations of the systems that are used to collect and use employee data;
  • the workplace ensures that managers and employees enter into dialogue on the collection and use of employee data when relevant. This could be when new systems are procured and implemented or if already implemented systems are modified or expanded to register more or new employees; and
  • the workplace formulates and communicates clear guidelines for the allocation of responsibilities in connection with the data collection.

Recommendation 2. Enhance the digital skills at the workplace. It is recommended that:

  • the workplace develops or looks for manager-specific training programmes that focus on best practice for data collection, critical data-driven management and the legal and ethical aspects of data collection;
  • the workplace develops or purchases relevant skills development programmes for select employees.

Recommendation 3. Use the existing possibilities to facilitate dialogue on the collection and use of employee data at the workplace. It is recommended that:

  • the workplace makes active use of the existing possibilities and processes such as staff meetings, works councils, town hall meetings, workplace risk assessments, etc. to open dialogue on the collection and use of employee data. This extends to recruitment and onboarding processes and appraisal interviews when employee data play a significant role, say, in relation to the remuneration of the individual employee;
  • the workplace discusses internally the most effective means of communicating information regarding the collection and use of employee data in a non-legal and non-technical language.

Recommendation 4. Draw inspiration from existing data ethics guidelines on the use and collection of employee data.

It is recommended that:

  • the workplace draws inspiration from existing data ethics guidelines aimed at customers, clients and members as well as guides and guidelines on data ethics available at, for example, the Data Ethics Council, the Danish Business Authority and Finansforbundet in the formulation of their data ethics guidelines; and
  • the workplace has open discussions on proportionality, purpose and data minimisation with relevant managers and employees based on new or existing data ethics guidelines.

This document provides a detailed review of the four recommendations (in Danish).


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