The consequences of violating your employee’s privacy are enough to want to deliberately take steps to avoid doing so. From significant consequences like expensive reputation-damaging lawsuits to relatively smaller but still impactful repercussions like low employee morale and trust issues, violating employee privacy is just a really bad idea.
Still, employee monitoring is more often than not a necessary part of running a business and the key is to find a balance between these two responsibilities. So before you bulk buy drug test cups or install timers on all work laptops, here are 3 approaches to keep in mind.
Clear Privacy Policies
One of the first things you want to do is make sure your business has clear private policies because they are the foundation of respecting privacy; setting expectations for how employee data is handled within your organization.
Otherwise, without clear privacy policies, there’s the danger of difficult-to-navigate loopholes and ambiguity at the very least.
- What personal information you collect (e.g., names, addresses, social security numbers)
- How you collect this data (e.g., during onboarding, through HR processes)
- The purposes for which this data is collected (e.g., payroll, benefits administration)
- How long the data will be retained
- Who within the organization will have access to this information
- How employees can access, correct, or delete their data
- Procedures for reporting data breaches
Limited Data Access
You’re responsible for the data you collect – legally as well as ethically – and one of the simplest ways to significantly reduce the risk of privacy breaches is by restricting access to employee data to only vetted, authorized personnel.
Luckily, there are many ways to implement strict access controls. Such as:
- Assigning permissions based on job roles and responsibilities
- Using advanced password protection and encryption to secure digital records
- Keeping physical records in locked cabinets or rooms
- Conducting periodic access audits
For example, say you run a clinic. Why not make it so that only HR (human resources department) has access to employee medical records for insurance purposes, while department heads have access only to performance-related information?
Regular Compliance Audits
Regular compliance audits are how you make extra sure that your business is adhering to data protection laws and privacy regulations. Non-compliance often means expensive legal battles, fines, damaged reputations, even a halt in business operations.
So, you want to:
- Appoint a data protection officer or compliance officer
- Review your privacy policies and practices to ensure they align with current regulations
- Identify any potential privacy risks or vulnerabilities in your systems
- Establish a plan to address and rectify any non-compliance issues promptly
By following these steps, your business can respect employee privacy while also maintaining compliance with relevant data protection laws and regulations; ultimately fostering a trusting and secure work environment.