Privacy and Workforce Analytics: The Employee Perspective


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This is part one of a four-part blog series.

For many organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic was a forcing function that took remote work from “maybe we’ll try it out in the future” to “we need to switch to this model immediately.” As an employee, you’re likely familiar with the mixed bag this abrupt transition presented: Increased schedule and location flexibility coupled with challenges like communication snafus and an inability to unplug from your work. 

It’s possible that your company has adopted (or is looking to adopt) workforce analytics in an effort to make sense of new remote and hybrid workplace dynamics and their impact on employee success. This AI-driven software sits quietly in the background of your workday, capturing data about digital activity and how you interact with the tools at your disposal. 

You may feel anxious about personal privacy and given the anti-surveillance sentiment, you  may be considering questions like:

  • “Does my boss think I don’t know how to do my job?”
  • “What kind of data is being collected? How will my data be kept safe and secure?”
  • “Is the company spying on me? And is this going to be used against me?” 

Let’s break down some of the most common worries about workforce analytics and how you can be assured that your employer is using a platform that considers everyone’s best interests, as it is a shared responsibility that allows everyone to benefit equally and work wiser.

Respecting Privacy 

At a high level, the notion that workforce analytics can analyze your digital work habits, and potentially personal data, may feel like an invasion of privacy — especially if you’re someone who chooses to “opt-out” of data tracking whenever a website asks for your consent. Additionally, you may be pondering what exactly your company is doing with that data. 

A modern workforce analytics solution recognizes the importance of privacy considerations to businesses and their people, and collects business-purpose data which can be delivered to both: everyone at a contextual level, and the relevant level to meet the goals, culture, and needs of the organization. The right technology an organization puts in place must have the controls to respect your data privacy and keep your information secure. Common methods to protect privacy include exclusion of sensitive data collection such as detailed web URLs and subpages, stringent user & role-based access to data, and promoting confidentiality through anonymization or team-level data aggregation, among others. 

Supporting a Culture of Transparency and Trust 

Progressive businesses want to practice transparency surrounding workforce analytics, but most tools on the market do not have the controls or processes to help achieve such collaborative outcomes. This could trigger paranoid thoughts about how employers might use analytics in ways that are counter to their corporate culture and employee-first goals.

A modern workforce analytics platform helps you, your manager, and your leadership team have a shared understanding of how the data can benefit you personally which leads to better outcomes for the company as a whole. The visibility into how work gets done irrespective of within traditional 9-5 hours or in-office or remote can empower organizations to consider flexibility benefits to promote employee well-being and work-life balance.  

Gathering the Next Level of Employee Feedback

A progressive organization thinks of workforce analytics not as a tool of control but yet another data point that can help support employee needs. Analyzing trends and patterns can present employees and managers alike with opportunities for meaningful and supportive conversations to detect and address early signs of over-utilization and burnout. It provides the signals that the company can use to make course corrections for the business.

Much in the way Voice of the Employee tools offers anonymous employee surveys, where only you see your own responses, while at the organizational level, the information is aggregated to show high-level patterns. A modern workforce analytics platform can ambiently capture your activity data so that you can be more self-aware of your habits, and provide recommendations that can help you improve personally. Much like a Fitbit or Apple Watch can help you with better exercise and eating habits, a progressive workforce analytics platform gives you the insights to help with your “digital dexterity” as Gartner calls it. In fact, some organizations are starting to think and offer such personal insights into work activity data alongside other benefits like 401k, gym memberships, and other perks, as they want their employees to be empowered to avoid burnout, and stay healthy. 

When individuals benefit from having their insights to their own activity data, just like employee survey data, the aggregate level could be used to make the company aware of broader trends around over-utilization, inefficiencies in the process, and potential burnout. Then if the company and employees agree, more detailed discussions can take place about the data at the department and team levels that allow for a collaborative dialog that ensures that everyone can contribute to improved outcomes. The level of analysis, engagement, and when those discussions take place is something that is determined by the culture of your organization. The data gathered provides the insight and therefore the opportunity to have those conversations. 

Flexible Methodology and Suggestions you can Trust  

Taking a few steps back from some of the nitty-gritty details of workforce analytics, you may start to wonder what makes certain tasks more productive than others. This is especially applicable if your role involves some amount of deep thinking, creative brainstorming, or reading and researching materials that may not seem directly related to your work. 

Furthermore, if you’ve been keeping up with headlines about AI and machine learning, you could be skeptical about the reliability of workforce analytics and question any inherent biases in play from poorly trained data sets. 

At the end of the day, it’s important to know that a workforce analytics platform isn’t a recommendation engine that is blindly followed and obeyed. It requires human analysis of the insights that are delivered to separate what is noisy vs. noteworthy. Your company’s culture and support of your well-being will ensure that the data is being used in the right manner. More critically, this is a journey of both discovery and improvement. Having the data allows both you and your employer to be agile, to make adjustments that meet the changes in both personal and business needs. Whether it’s working from home in this hybrid and remote post-pandemic era, lack of focus time caused by too many meetings and real-time chat interrupts, or excessive proliferation of yet more SaaS tools without sufficient training, that leads to counter-productivity.

Workforce Analytics as a Win-Win for All

A financial services ActivTrak customer was able to detect widespread ZOOM fatigue among their remote workforce and provide guidance to empower employees to decline meetings, leading to not only higher productivity, but also improved employee experience.

There’s a reason we were selected as the PCMag “Editors’ Choice” in this software category and dubbed “Google Analytics for your office.” At ActivTrak, we’re focused on insight not oversight. We want to highlight positive patterns that empower employees to have the flexibility to do their best work, reduce burnout, and frustration, which leads to better outcomes for everyone. 

Learn more about ActivTrak’s Data Privacy and Controls here. Get early access to ActivTrak with the latest data privacy controls. And set up a trial account or, request a demo with one of our experts.

About ActivTrak

ActivTrak helps companies unlock productivity potential. Our award-winning workforce analytics and productivity management software provides expert insights that empower people, optimize processes, and maximize technology. Additionally, with data sourced from more than 9,000 customers and over 450,000 users, ActivTrak’s Workforce Productivity Lab is a global center for ground-breaking research and expertise that helps companies embrace and embody the future of work.