We have a lot of information at our hands on a daily basis and it’s not just the employee records. Companies have trade secrets that only a few people are allowed to know, they have financial records that are private, money rules that we follow and so much more. It is important when you’re coming into a company, you understand what is private and what is public knowledge, how to provide the information, and what cannot be mixed. Here are a few items that we as young professionals need to be aware of that we might not necessarily think about in our off-work day to day life.
- Emailing Information – Email must be one of the most daunting tasks in any organization. One day you only have 2 emails, the next you have 40 and 38 of them are labeled as “High Importance”. There a few rules to the game of emailing that we all can learn from, even what I think is basic knowledge, I’ve found out it’s not. Sending sensitive information over an email exchange is a big no-no, did you not learn from Hillary? I actually had an employee call saying they needed a copy of their social security card and wanted me to send this to an email, smh. Your employees’ information is sensitive and should be treated as such, don’t put yourself, your company, or your employees’ information at risk by releasing it so freely. As much as I dislike the phone, sometimes it’s best to pick up it up and have a conversation instead of clicking that send button. This also goes for when you’re feeling very passionate or hot-headed about a situation. Take the time to read the email out loud and go back to proofread the entire email before sending it. I like emails when addressing my managers because it is proof of contact and helps with accountability, at least for my organization.
- Employee Information – Our employees are entrusting that we will not release any information to other people who they have not authorized us to do so. We have everything about our employees either in a computer system, in company files, or maybe both. Companies are getting hacked now left and right, we have a responsibility to do everything possible to make sure we keep their information safe.
- Housing Information
- Schedule Information
- Hiring Information (including application, tax forms, references, check stubs)
- Performance Reviews
- Termination Information
- Medical Information
Everything listed is something that HR is responsible for and if you can’t keep this information to yourself, HR is probably not the career choice you should take in life. Although HR does hold a lot of secrets, it is important that we know where to draw the line and still do our duties as employees and leadership.
- Investigation 101 – The number of harassments reports are growing rapidly in the media, but what about the “regular” people who don’t have thousands and millions of dollars to be on the magazine covers and in high political cases. They matter too, and it is our job to get all of the information needed to conduct a thorough investigation. While we can’t promise our employees complete confidentiality, because we will have to speak with other members involved, we need to understand that it doesn’t mean everyone in the company needs to find out what is going on. Keeping the investigation records separate from normal employee files has always been a practice of mine. This way I know why those are all together, I know exactly where they all are, and if one of the supervisors needs an employee file, they aren’t getting the information they might not need. Handling sensitive information in an investigation does not just mean information regarding sexual harassment claims. Anything from two employees arguing over their schedule to accidents on the job can go for this rule.
Having an HR department the employees and company can trust is our duty and to gain that trust, we have to ensure that our employees know we will take every step possible to keep that information secured. This information getting into the wrong hands could cause a major problem for not only the organization but most importantly, the employee. People who are getting out of an abusive relationship, people wanting to start over and make changes to become better in life. We must train our employees, managers, and leadership teams to understand what can and cannot be given out, and to direct anyone that asks, to the correct departments.
Until Next Time …