Damage Limitation through sound Data Protection – What’s that got to do with HR?

Guest blog by Emma Browning, Awarding Winning, Independent HR Expert 

Unfortunately, in my career, it goes without saying that I have had to exit some employees from the businesses that I have helped to support. This could be because of redundancy or dismissal or perhaps even a settlement agreement for someone that the business needs to exit promptly but fairly. However, what is often forgotten or neglected is the Data Protection element of the exiting employee.

Lots of planning goes into preparing a script for the discussion or meeting with the employee or even preparing the settlement agreement. Thinking about when the meeting will be held and who will be present. It’s also a consideration as to how we allow the person to leave the business if after the meeting, they are in floods of tears. How do we get them their things from their desk without people starting to gossip about what’s going on? All of these things need to be thought through carefully before entering into such a difficult and sensitive conversation.

But the one thing that is often forgotten in the planning stage is how you ensure that your company’s data is protected. Now some of you might say, well why do I need to do this? The answer is simple. You may have an angry or upset employee that could send an email to all employees about the unfairness of their treatment (and I have seen some horrors in my time!) Worse still, they could send an email to your clients, post something defamatory on the company Linkedin Page or Company Facebook page, steal your client data, or even worse, delete it! Now, what would you do if any of these were to happen? What would the impact be to your business or your staff?

Please don’t be the business owner that says to me, “Oh no, we don’t need to do that, it will look like we don’t trust them, and we do, they have been with us for 10 years and are really loyal” and then die of embarrassment when they send a vile email to all employees and all clients saying what a total sham of a business you have! (plus I am being polite here as they could say much worse!)

Please make sure you know how to protect your client or employee data and that only a select few people in your business have passwords, but make sure these passwords are known to others in the business and are not personal passwords. Make sure you have a plan for deleting or removing any data posted that is defamatory. Also, make sure that when you have any situation like this, you have IT support that can immediately (not in 4 hours’ time) cut off peoples’ access to emails, your server and company data and company social media sites.

If you would like to discuss how you keep your data safe then please talk to me about creating the right Data Protection Policies, or Social Media Policies to protect you and your business. I work with a great company called Databasix and what they don’t know about keeping your data safe isn’t worth knowing!

You can find out more about Emma through her website www.emmacbrowning.com.