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Blog : Behavioural Data – ‘Big Brother’ state or HR necessity?


Behavioural Data – ‘Big Brother’ state or HR necessity?

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By Eugenio Pirri, Vice President of People + Organisational Development at Dorchester Collection and named one of 'HR's Most Influential People' in 2016 by  HR Magazine 

There is much talk about the importance of data and analytics within the HR profession at the moment. Yet despite this, very few practitioners understand how people analytics can truly shape their strategies. Or, in fact, what tools should be used to measure what outputs.

So as someone who uses and respects data, it was an honour to be asked to join the panel at Purple Cubed’s Breakfast Club in October where we debated the role of people analytics within a business and I, along with my panel peers, shared our views and experiences of using data successfully.

The stand out conversation for me was the dilemma between tracking employee data and employee privacy. Is tracking employee information ethically right?

As a realist, I don’t believe in a Big Brother state, however I do appreciate that we are tracked. Whether that’s through CCTV, Facebook usage or our weekly supermarket shops. Nowadays, we leave a vast data trail wherever we go.

Because of this I believe that tracking employee data is therefore not as intrusive as it could have once been perceived. However, I firmly believe that if you are an organisation and you wish to track your employee data - specifically behavioural data – you must be honest with your people. They need to know you are doing it and why you are doing it.

My fellow panellist, Colin Strong, who is the head of behavioural science at Ipsos MORI raised an interesting point on this subject. Particularly that as an HR profession we must get our heads around collecting data on behaviours and then using this in an intelligent way.

For years, marketers have used consumer behavioural data to improve their customer experience. Now it’s the turn of HR to do the same to improve the employee experience.

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