The topic of information security and data privacy has been making headlines in recent years, but how much emphasis does your company place on employee data privacy?
Nowadays, few commodities are as crucial to businesses as data. We can learn troves of information about our customers with the right data analytics. This allows us to create better products, streamline our marketing campaigns, and boost personalization.
But of course, data doesn’t just apply externally. Employee data can also provide us with vital information, and it can help us to boost diversity and make the most of an employee’s unique skills.
However, regardless of how you use data, people are beginning to take note. Today, the public is more concerned about their data and its use, and this concern has spawned multiple pieces of legislation worldwide. The most significant example is the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
With that in mind, it’s worth understanding how GDPR affects employee data privacy and methods of altering your internal communications to be GDPR compliant.
Image sourced from Luxatia International
What is GDPR?
GDPR was introduced in 2018 to regulate how companies handle their data. The legislation is broad and covers many different areas. Let’s look at some of the main headlines:
- Before any data can be collected, consent must first be obtained from the data subject.
- Data subjects should clearly understand how their data is being collected. They should know the kind of information being stored and how it is used.
- Data should only be processed for legitimate reasons, and it should only be held for the amount of time necessary for processing.
A common misconception of GDPR is that it applies specifically online. In reality, the legislation covers many areas. For example, phone calls and phone recordings fall under the jurisdiction of the law. Whether you have recorded recent calls or are keeping records of long-term conversations, customers can request access to these recordings.
It’s important to note that even if you aren’t based within the EU, the law still may apply to you. If you collect data from users based within the EU, you need to comply with GDPR. Failure to comply with GDPR can result in a fine of up to €20 million.
4 ways to improve employee data privacy
It’s clear to see why GDPR is so important. But how do you ensure that your internal communications remain compliant? Here are four tips for improving employee data privacy.
- Be transparent about employee data privacy.
There are many instances where you’ll need to collect some employee data. You might be handing out contracts to new members of staff. Or, you may be monitoring workers to improve future training modules.
The bottom line is that staff need to be aware whenever they’re using employee data. This means more than handing out a vague outline. Employees need to understand in detail how you will be collecting their data. It’s also important that staff know who to contact if they have any concerns about data collection.
Remember that the key pillar of GDPR is consent. Once workers understand how you intend to collect their data, you need their permission, which means more than gaining verbal consent. To maintain GDPR compliance, you will need written authorization from employees.
- Educate and inform
There’s a good chance that many of your employees need to be clearer about the importance of data rights. Remember, it’s more than just the overall company that needs to be mindful of data privacy. With proper training, employees can handle the personal details of customers.
That’s why it’s so vital that you offer some education about data privacy. To begin, it’s good to encourage employees to look inwards, and staff is more likely to be conscious of customer data if they value their own data. Offer general advice about staying safe online.
You should also make sure that learning materials are easily accessible to staff. The necessary information should be on hand if employees have a data-related query.
- Bring in the right people.
Hiring a data protection officer (DPO) is an integral part of remaining GDPR compliant. A DPO will monitor compliance within your organization. They will remind you of your data protection obligations, as well as offer advice for remaining within the law. The DPO will be the first port of call for any member of staff that has data-related concerns.
Of course, a DPO is only effective if you hire the right person. You have the option of hiring externally or appointing an existing employee. Whichever option you choose, ensure that your DPO has some of the following experience and abilities:
- A strong legal background, with specific knowledge of data protection legislation
- Clear knowledge of IT and cybersecurity
- An ability to train and educate employees on topics related to data protection
- Ensure security
Security threats are an ever-present danger. In the last year alone, 66% of smaller-sized businesses have been affected by cyberattacks. For this reason, there is a high risk of employees’ personal details being leaked. Ensuring the security of this and other key data is an important part of GDPR.
That said, GDPR doesn’t specify a set of steps for cybersecurity. Instead, the legislation reminds holders of data to take ‘appropriate action. In a nutshell, ensure that you have a strong firewall setup, as well as invest in the best antivirus systems.
Make employee data privacy a priority.
There are certain aspects of business that are regarded as common sense. For example, when your organization is first starting out, you need to decide whether to use a DBA (Doing Business As, where the name that the public associates with your business are different from its legal name. Data privacy should be viewed with the same importance.
GDPR shows no sign of going away anytime soon. Instead, we can expect data laws to become more and more commonplace. Instead of trying to avoid the issue, tackle it head-on. This means putting the privacy of customer and employee data at the heart of everything you do, which will be music to the ears of every privacy-focused email client.
You will need to put data transparency at the cornerstone of your organization. Educate your employees so that they understand the importance of data privacy. Make sure that they know the best practices for keeping data safe. Appoint an experienced DPO to keep you on the right side of the law. Finally, invest in security to make sure that data is safe.
Of course, there is being GDPR-compliant, but these simple steps will set you on the right path. There is no escaping GDPR. Why not make data privacy a priority?