Posted in:

Rogue app use ‘exposes European companies to GDPR penalties’

Study Reveals how global frontline workers now use unauthorised messaging apps up to six times in each working day.

Frontline workers in the retail, hospitality and entertainment industries are increasingly turning to unauthorised messaging apps for work-related communications – without their HR department’s knowledge.

According to the Bridging the Internal Communications Gap: What Frontline Employees Really Want & Need research study from Speakap, some 53% of global frontline workers admit they use messaging apps ‘up to six times daily’ for work-related communications. Yet, 16% acknowledge that their employer’s HR departments are ‘unaware’ of such usage.

Speakap surveyed more than 1,000 deskless employees in the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain and Germany to discover their existing internal communications practices, as well as their needs, frustrations and preferences for employee engagement. The survey was fielded in December 2018, and targeted deskless employees (i.e., retail store associates, front-of-house staff, customer service staff, etc.) across a range of business sectors, including retail, hospitality and entertainment.

Some 68% of respondents to the study’s survey said they would stop using messaging apps and social media sites if their employers ‘provided an internal communications platform’. This finding signals two things, the report suggests: first, a ‘disillusionment’ with the current processes and flaws of consumer-focused messaging apps and social media sites; and second, a willingness to embrace and use a ‘smarter alternative’.

With the EU General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR – in force effect since May 25, 2018, many European businesses have now banned the use of messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat in order to comply with the new legislation.

“There are three serious problems with using tools like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger for employee communications,” says Patrick Van Der Mijl, Co-founder at Speakap. “They are digital wellbeing, data security and regulatory compliance. This is reinforced by the data from our Bridging the Internal Communications Gap study, with 30% of the respondents saying that the 24/7 nature of messaging apps and social media sites makes it difficult for them to maintain a [healthy] work/personal life balance. Furthermore, 12% expressed concerns that sensitive data could be left exposed and susceptible to data breaches. Worse, the unapproved use of these tools could potentially cause a company to fail an regulator audit without ever causing a data breach, especially in highly-regulated industries.”

Van Der Mijl adds: “Just because these tools are popular or preferred does not mean that they are the right choice.”