Before the digital age, privacy was not as much of a concern for people or companies. Information was typically written down or recorded on a tape. Safekeeping could more easily be provided by putting the materials in a secure area and any sharing could more easily be tracked by a physical paper trail. Privacy was such a lesser concern once upon a time that there were little or no laws that governed privacy. But as computers, the Internet, smart phones, and more exploded onto the scene, so did concerns over privacy. Sharing information became easier than ever but what happen when it is shared with the wrong person, spied on in the middle of transmission, or stolen? Now there many laws governing privacy inside and outside of the workplace. The best employers guarantee their employees’ privacy not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it saves money on lawsuits for failure to do so.
To employ people, companies need to collect a number of pieces of information about their employees that must be kept safe because it is subject to a legal requirement to do so or because it would cause extreme harm to the company’s reputation if private information of their employees was leaked/stolen. Who would want to go work at a place where they don’t think their social security number, home address, bank account numbers, or phone numbers will be kept private? No salary is large enough to make up for losing control over pieces of information such as those and depending on how much notoriety the employee has, such as a CEO or famous billionaire founder, loss of privacy could put such people in real danger.
The best companies make sure they have a well-drafted company privacy policy that everyone adheres to at all times. It explains when/where employees can expect privacy and when/where they can’t so there is no confusion, how confidential information is kept private, and what the process will be if private information should somehow be compromised. Next, because of the rise of digital intrusion/hacking, the company should filter out access on the company intranet or internet access point to websites or domains where attacks are known to come from.
It will take a little extra know-how and effort to get setup, but adding two-factor authentication to all or some company systems will also help keep employee information safe. Lastly, periodically testing employees on their knowledge of the privacy policy and data security policy will help reduce the chance of employees unwittingly compromising the privacy of a company from within.