- Walmart announced that it's letting its employees use their own cell phones for work and will give them discounts on their phone bills, the Business Insider reported. Starting this month, the retail giant will let workers use their mobiles on the sales floor to perform such work-related tasks as clocking in, checking inventory and prices, scanning products and reviewing sales data. Walmart previously forbid employees to use their phones on the sales floor.
- According to the Insider, Walmart changed its policy on personal phone use for work after learning from employees that they preferred to use their own devices rather than the company's. To participate in the voluntary program, called "bring your own device" (BYOD), workers must download a suite of Walmart apps to their phones so they can access historical sales data, product delivery schedules and other information once available to only managers.
- Walmart will have limited access to information on employees' phones. The company will know the make and model of employees' phones, phone number, carrier, storage usage, battery level, and corporate email and data. Walmart said it won't have access to employees' personal email and data, voicemail, photos, videos, text, location, web activity or apps, according to the Insider.
Walmart's move is a big sign that BYOD is likely here to stay, especially as retailers and other big-box employers find ways to implement tech throughout their employee lifecycles. Personal device use tends to be accessible for employees and allows for a more familiar user experience, increasing engagement overall.
The move is also a good example of what can happen when an employer takes time to listen to their workers. Outdated technology can frustrate employees; research even shows that it makes them less productive and pushes them to leave, according to a Unisys Corporation study released in July. Listening to workers and acting on their recommendations also can increase engagement and retention.
Employers interested in this BYOD approach will want to note the cybersecurity risks involved. According to a Clutch research study, many workers use their own devices with little company oversight, but personal use of devices can leave employers' systems vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches. To curb the incidences of breaches, workplaces need to enforce policies that guide the use of personal devices. HR can team up with IT to draft an employee guide for identifying and preventing cybersecurity breaches and taking other precautions to safeguard the workplace.