Personal data from Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites will be monitored more by employers over the next decade, according to a new report from PwC, which says that one third of young people would happily trade in their privacy in return for a little job security.

The future of work: A journey to 2022 report surveyed 10,000 workers around the world as well as 500 human resources professionals in order to guage their attitude towards their social media use being monitored by their employers.

The report suggests that data available through Facebook, Twitter and other social channels could be used by employers to gain an insight in to what motivates their workforce along with other information including why staff change jobs and what could be done to improve their wellbeing within the organisation.

John Harding, human resource services partner at PwC in Manchester, said:

“Just as advertisers and retailers are using data from customers’ online and social media activity to tailor their shopping experience, organisations could soon start using workers’ personal data (with their permission) to measure and anticipate performance and retention issues.

This sort of data profiling could also extend to real-time monitoring of employees’ health, with proactive health guidance to help reduce sick leave. Key to the success of organisations being able to use employee data will be developing measurable benefits for those who hand over their data and building trust through clear rules about how data is acquired, used and shared.”

According to the research, half of the global workforce will be aged 32 or under by 2020, which will see a shift in attitude towards the use of technology and personal data. The PwC report says that these younger workers are far more relaxed about the sharing of data than previous generations, with 36% saying their employer is welcome to their personal data.

Whilst I can see why an employer would love to gain access to an employee’s social postings, either by viewing what is publicly available or via explicit consent, I struggle to see how the staff member gains from such an agreement.

By giving an employer permission to access their social media accounts, the individual would be giving up their privacy for very little return. The employer would gain all sorts of insight into how their staff think and what they do with their time when away from the workplace but I fail to see how that could be used to motivate them further, or increase their feeling of wellbeing. From the employees’ point of view I can see nothing to gain whatsoever. How giving up access to their social media accounts would lead to the claimed increase in job security I do not know.

This just seems to be another case of the general poulace giving up their rights for very little in return. Or, as Benjamin Franklin may have said “Those who surrender their social media accounts for job security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

Considering the laid back attitude many youngsters have towards the sharing of their personal data these days I do wonder if, in the future, that approach will come back to bite them where it hurts.

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