3 HR Tips for Guarding Employees' Private Information

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3 HR Tips for Guarding Employees' Private Information

When sensitive information becomes compromised, businesses can have a tough time attracting and maintaining the top talent in their industries.

Having sensitive employee information become compromised can be devastating to your business. Although IT departments play a vital role in preventing cyberattacks, HR teams must have a steady hand in protecting employee data. After all, Human Resource professionals are the primary requesters and collectors of private employee information. Even with the best preventative IT tools and strategies in place, shortcomings in data protection on the part of HR can lead to disaster.

Moreover, they can additionally face several painful legal and financial penalties. Following are three tips for safeguarding confidential info that every HR team can put to use.

1. Make the Move to an All-Digital Recordkeeping System

If your business hasn't done so already, now is the time to make a move to an all-digital recordkeeping system. Nothing is less secure than a physical file. Physical records can be accessed by anyone passing by or through your filing area. Moreover, whenever physical files are pulled and moved from office to office, they can be lost, misfiled, or stolen. At any given point in time, a floating employee file can quickly become available to unauthorized eyes.

Conversely, digital recordkeeping systems, mostly cloud-based, can be reserved for authorized viewing, editing, and sharing only. Only those individuals with the correct login credentials will be able to access sensitive records and use them. Moreover, your company can necessitate special training about these records’ privacy and confidentiality before issuing any system authorizations. This way, only parties who are well-versed in the standards for information safety that your HR team upholds will have access to sensitive data.

2. Establish Formal Policies and Procedures for Data Collection and Maintenance

One of the best ways to keep the private information of employees safe is to have an established set of formal policies and procedures for all employee-related data collection and maintenance. These can include only asking for essential information during and after the hiring process, only storing collected information digitally and in a restricted, cloud-based database, and only opening, sharing, or otherwise using stored data on secured, company computers. These guidelines should be routinely reviewed and revised to reflect the ongoing growth and other business changes. Privacy policies in HR for medium size business operations will necessarily be much different from those for small and micro-sized organizations. If these policies and procedures are not regularly updated, they will gradually become less effective in keeping your growing numbers of employees protected.

3. Practice Proper Records Disposal

Even as an increasing number of businesses move towards entirely paperless operations, the need for some manner of written records remains. Efforts to limit these records as much as possible significantly reduces the risk of having private information become compromised. However, the disposal of any essential paper files can markedly increase it. More often than not, the end of an employee's retention period is a time for disposing of any written records that exist. When correctly done, this ensures that unauthorized parties cannot read the included data and that it can in no way be reconstructed.

Shredding written records is the most common data destruction solution among small, medium, and large-sized businesses. Outsourcing these efforts to reputable and specially trained professionals is a sure way to verify that the work is done thoroughly, correctly, and on-par with all compliance requirements, industry standards, and best practices. Data destruction companies can get rid of all physical files and all electronic media containing sensitive information. Not only are these services helpful at the end of employee retention, but they are often essential during any major transitions from paper-based filing systems to digital ones.

There are numerous drawbacks and painful consequences of having sensitive employee data become comprised. While IT departments can prevent the risk of cyberattacks, HR teams must diligently strive to implement in-department and company-wide policies and procedures that perfectly align with these efforts. With the right strategies in place, your business can avoid loss of productivity and costly legal issues while maintaining its status as a desirable employer.