It is fascinating to live in this information age. Just Google something you want to know and you'll be guided within few seconds to the most relevant results. With computers and Internet becoming an essential part in all walks of life, storing confidential information is no less than a challenge for employers. After all, you don't want your private information to be leaked in the public. Governments, military, corporate houses, financial institutions, hospitals, colleges and schools, all take extreme care in ensuring that sensitive information regarding employees or clients remains safe. Moreover, information pertaining to product research, marketing strategy and financial status are also vital for any firm. Should any of these private information leak into the hands of miscreants and those with criminal tendencies, it can cause a huge loss to the business, country or to an individual.
Maintaining Confidentiality at Work
It is certainly challenging to prevent information breach online as a large number of fake websites, spammers and hackers are always at work to fulfill their nefarious pursuits. While information on the Internet can only be leaked after some efforts, poor HR management can often lead to breach of confidentially of an employee, sometimes, even indirectly! Consider this scenario. An employee takes a significant leave for getting rehabilitation due to drug abuse; however, when he returns, the news about his recovery is spread in the office. This breach of confidentiality regarding health status of the employee may not be welcomed by the employee.
It would have been another case, had the employee informed everyone before leaving. In the US, in such cases, if the employer casually spreads sensitive information or allows a situation wherein the sensitive information (here medical information) of an employee gets leaked, then there are various lawsuits that can be filed against the employer. Even former employees can file a lawsuit against the firm, if information regarding their medical health is not kept confidential. Privacy at work matters a lot and that's why there are several guidelines for HR department while accessing and displaying information concerning employees. Following measures can be taken by HR heads to ensure that confidentiality in the workplace remains unchallenged;
- Discuss importance of confidentiality at work with your employees. Explain to them that even they must be vigilant in not sharing any personal and sensitive information about themselves to people whom they find suspicious. Similarly, employees must be warned of technological infiltrators that ask for personal information. Phishing and spamming are two classic examples of Internet threats that have become somewhat common these days.
- HR teams guided by the management members must draft policies, code of conduct and laws regarding management of confidential information.
- There must be a backup of the confidential information, in case the stored data is lost due to computer system failure.
- Soft copies of the printed hard copy must be saved in separate folders in password protected computers.
- HR managers must make HR staff and employees aware about dealing with confidential phone calls and printed material carefully.
- While maintaining information is vital for future reference, knowing what information to delete is equally important. HR team and managers must carefully dispense information which is deemed unnecessary.
Maintaining confidentiality in the workplace is all about understanding the individual need for privacy and comfort. More than that, it is the security of the person that is very important. While legal concerns due to leaking out the information regarding any employee are many in number, there can be more damage to the company due to breach of trust and understanding with the employee, which can be an irreparable loss. Hence, almost all firms and companies must deal with the confidentiality issue with complete responsibility.