As we rapidly move toward a mobile-first world, more of us than ever are completing work on mobile devices. This work often gets done on devices we own ourselves, rather than those owned and secured by our employers. These “mixed-use” devices complicate things from a compliance and security perspective, but their use is inevitable in today’s environment. Proactive HR leaders can turn this situation into a recruitment and retention advantage by working with CIOs to implement policies that safeguard employee privacy as closely as corporate property and information.

30% of employees would leave their jobs if the personal data on their mobile devices was visible to their employer. -MobileIron Trust Gap Survey

Most Mobile Workers Trust Employers With Their Privacy

A 2015 MobileIron “Trust Gap” survey recently revealed that 61% of mobile workers trust their employer to keep personal information on their mobile devices private. Digging further into the report, however, we can also see that this expectation of privacy means that 30% of employees would leave their jobs if the personal data on their mobile devices was visible to their employer. With such a significant population of mobile workers trusting their employers to safeguard their information, HR must work with IT to protect employee privacy or risk losing a significant portion of their organization’s talent.

Private emails, contacts, SMS and instant messages, app usage and location data are among the top personal data concerns of mobile workers. On mixed-use devices owned by employees, this data is not typically accessible by employers unless an application is specifically designed to track that information. This is good news for both employers and employees, but it may not be communicated in a way that benefits your recruitment and retention efforts.

Four Steps to Creating a Mobile Device Privacy Advantage

MobileIron’s recommendations include establishing and communicating policies that clearly state what the company can and cannot see on mobile devices, as well as what actions they may take with information stored on those devices. The organization also emphasizes the importance of making this information easily accessible so there is no confusion about what is and is not accessible by the employer.

Promoting your stance on protecting personal data on mixed-use devices is a unique way to differentiate your company in the talent-centric landscape. As younger generations search for employers with values that reflect their own, this addition to your employer brand could make a substantial difference between gaining and losing the best talent.

To recap, take these four steps to turn the issue of privacy on mobile or mixed-use devices to your advantage:

  1. Establish a policy that clearly states what your company can and cannot access on mobile devices
  2. Communicate what actions your company can and cannot take with information stored on mixed-use devices
  3. Make this information prominent and easily accessible to employees to avoid confusion
  4. Promote your company’s stance on protecting employee privacy on mixed-use devices to reflect the values of a younger generation and improve recruitment efforts

Mobile device privacy is obviously a complicated issue. But as more technologies come to market that enable us to work from anywhere, it is an issue HR leaders must tackle now rather than later. Use it to your advantage and improve your chances of acquiring the best up-and-coming talent.


Post contributed by Adam Godson, Director of Global Technology Solutions. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.