PwC: Half of people willing to use workplace smartwatch

26 June 2015

Half of the workforce would use a smartwatch provided by their employer if the information would be used to improve their work wellbeing, research by PwC shows. Millennials are among the people most willing to wear a smartwatch, with 70% willing to do so for improved work conditions. Trust in the employer is listed as the main barrier to use the wearable technology.

Professional services firm PwC recently released research into the will of people in the UK to use wearable technology from their employer. The research, for which it surveyed over 2,000 working UK adults, shows that almost half (40%) of the surveyed people would be willing to wear such a device.

PwC - Workplace smartwatch

The number of people willing to wear a smartwatch is even higher, up to 56%, when people know this data will be used to enhance their wellbeing at work. People are most willing to share their personal data for flexible working hours, free health screening and health and fitness incentives. Other incentives include reduced stress levels and more options to work from. “Giving employees wearable devices could be an innovative and powerful way for organisations to better understand their workforce and tailor working patterns, benefits and office life to their individual needs; ultimately leading to more engaged, happy and higher performing employees,” explains Anthony Bruce, People Analytics Leader at PwC.

Generation gap
PwC’s research shows significant differences among the generations when it comes to their willingness to wear a smartwatch provided by their employers, with the Millennials (born between 1980 and 1995) most comfortable with sharing their data. 60% is willing to use a smartwatch compared to 38% from Generation X workers (born between 1960 and 1980). When data is used to improve work conditions, 70% of Millennials and 51% of Generation X workers would agree to such a device. Of the people born before 1960, only 40% would take up an offer of a smartwatch on the promise of improved work wellbeing.

Trust biggest barrier to smartwatch

Trust in the employer is highlighted as the main barrier to people willing to share their data. Of the people who did not opt for any of the benefits on offer in exchange for their data, 41% say they do not trust their employer ‘not to use the data against them in some way’ and 40% say they do not trust their employer ‘to use the data for their benefit’. Commenting on this, Jon Andrews, HR Consulting Leader at PwC, says: “The key to success for organisations and employees will be ensuring they have the trust of their people by setting clear rules about how the data is acquired, used and shared. The way that employers communicate what they are doing with their staff and the benefits they can offer will be a good starting point in helping to fill the trust gap. At the same time, employers need to ensure they are keeping that data secure and managing it responsibly.”