As a busy human resources professional, monitoring your company’s website for employee data privacy may not be high on your list of priorities. You may think it’s marketing’s job to deal with the website, but company websites are often keepers of far more data than you probably imagine. Making sure your company is successfully prepared – including not just policies but action plans – is crucial. As an HR professional, you are also in an excellent position to engage employees and communicate changes to data policies, creating greater trust and understanding between employees and the company.
When it comes to your company’s website, you might be surprised at the amount of employee data hidden there. From inactive web pages, to employee image data, even hidden meta descriptions in PDF documents, finding and removing that data is a very real challenge. But employee data privacy is an issue that should be addressed by the HR team regularly and systematically.
No longer can HR teams abdicate responsibility for employee information. Make it a point to be involved as your company builds security protocols and plans for any incident or privacy concerns. Company policies should specifically address employee communications and you should let employees know that all files can be monitored for security weaknesses.
In 2018, the new GDPR requirements provided privacy legislation within the EU (affecting many US businesses that sell products or employ workers globally). GDPR gives everyone the right to be “forgotten” by a website – meaning have all their data removed. This also applies to employees.
So if you have an employee who has created company documents and posted them to your website, the metadata contained in those documents could easily still identify that former employee, violating their “right to be forgotten.” This is just one area of which HR professionals need to be aware.
In 2017, credit bureau Equifax was hit by one of the biggest website data breaches in history. Hackers exploited a vulnerability in a web application to access customers’ Social Security numbers, addresses, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, and credit card numbers.
The consequences of the data breach were terrible for both Equifax and its employees. The company experienced a significant loss of reputation. Although the company managed to come to an agreement with some state banking regulators in the United States to avoid paying fines, it faced large financial penalties in the United Kingdom and other areas. Meanwhile, Equifax employees were left in the dark about the data breach.
Simple communication from the HR team might have helped Equifax maintain it’s trust and relationship with employees following the data breach. Instead, after the breach was over, the company faced the challenge of working to reestablish its reputation among its own workforce.
Staying on top of policies, protocols and specific employee data privacy issues can be tedious, but there are tools available to HR professionals to help make this task more manageable. Siteimprove is one such resource, and Collibra offers a whitepaper on “Data Privacy Regulation.”
It’s particularly important to address any area where sensitive or personal employee data is concerned. Communication is key, and your employees need to be reassured that all data is stored on a secure site (https). If your company has one, make sure you connect with your security team to understand correct protocol. If there’s no team in place, it’s even more vital to ask the right questions:
Within your own team, be sure that access to employees’ personal data is limited to those that actually need to use it to perform their jobs. To reduce vulnerability, those with access should also create protocols for archiving, storing or deleting old or unnecessary employee data.
Always keep an eye to proactively creating easy-to-understand data protection policies. Be sure that those on your team that work with employees’ private data understand the laws that apply to that data. Maintaining employee trust is vital to your reputation as an employer of choice, and giving employees this peace of mind around their data is a vital part of that trust.
Ready to let employees know they can trust your company to protect their personal information? A custom-crafted online safety video from Projections can help you communicate with both your workforce and their families.
With employee perspectives on ethics shaped by very different sets of life experiences, it has never been more important for employers to engage employees across the generations. Baby boomer and millennial employees can understand common goals, even the company’s mission and vision, but understanding ethics can be an entirely different challenge.
Understanding ethics means making decisions on a daily basis with integrity, based on a values-driven workplace culture instead of just a compliant one.
The reality is that “Corporate Compliance” is often just a matter of checking boxes. Ethics can be a much more nebulous topic, and much more difficult for Human Resources teams to keep watch over. In an effort to succeed, employees feeling pressured sometimes strive to succeed in the wrong way. Consider the constant stream of news reports announcing ethical violations of theft and deception – sometimes starting at the very top.
The reports only scratch the surface of what’s going on. There are employees behaving in ways that are unethical, but the behaviors don’t rise to the level of a crime – backstabbing coworkers, job hopping despite commitments made at the time of hiring, secretly talking to disruptive union representatives rather than approaching supervisors, and on and on the list goes. Ethics is a pervasive principle.
Do baby boomers and millennials have different perspectives on ethics? Multiple surveys suggest they do. Baby boomers operate best in a workplace where there are formal systems to incentivize ethical conduct, access to formal channels that can provide regular guidance, published standards of conduct for responding to questionable activities and ethical leadership.
Millennials don’t like boundaries, largely due to technology and globalization. They like the flexibility to handle situations, collaborative work and quick access to resources when advice is needed. They’re more open and transparent, thus more likely to discuss their employer and workplace conditions with a wide range of people inside and outside the organization, creating a setup for ethical violations. Since they’re more flexible, millennials tend to tolerate historically typical unethical or non-compliant co-worker behaviors more than baby boomers, like theft.
One reason they don’t report observed misconduct at times is because they have seen “whistleblowers” get punished for doing the right thing. Yet, millennials are more likely than baby boomers to access the person or office responsible for compliance and ethics. The lesson to learn is that they’re very social, so communication about ethics and compliance should include social interaction and ongoing support, like ongoing training, technology-based reporting systems and frequent communications from leaders addressing ethics, which could be social media postings, tweets, HR feedback systems and all the other tools that people use to stay in touch.
Over the years, what is considered unethical behaviors
A couple of surveys also found that millennials are more inclined to do some things you, as an employer, likely believe are unethical. They include tweeting or posting information online about the organization and keeping copies of confidential documents. These are the types of activities that can easily end up involving unions. With the more relaxed millennial perspective of ethics, the challenge for employers is developing an organizational culture that gives people the freedom to be different, while embracing generational diversity.
Gallup’s research indicates that 70 percent of differences in employee engagement come down to local teams. This particular research addressed employees working in a variety of locations, but there is a lesson for all employers. All organizational leaders down to the lowest level must be ambassadors for ethics, driving the creation of an engaging culture that has ethics as a core value. Senior managers ordering people to act ethically via a policy may work with some baby boomers who are used to hierarchal orders, but it won’t be enough for millennials and it won’t create the ethical culture. Ethics must be “glocal” – local and global – whether talking about a particular department or an international business location.
Here’s the caveat: Millennials must have access to the right communication tools, like confidential online helplines before they are likely to report ethics violations. Employees in various generations reported bribery, kickbacks, and stealing, the kind of behaviors baby boomers have traditionally reported. However, other unethical behaviors reported by the 69 percent include misuse of confidential information, sexual harassment, and offering products and services that did not meet quality standards. Ethics goes far beyond compliance.
Of most importance is the fact the Ethics & Compliance Institute’s survey found that companies aren’t making progress in developing an ethical culture, which is the biggest factor influencing employee behavior. Only 20 percent of employees surveyed said their company has a strong ethical culture and approximately 40 percent indicated the organization’s ethical culture is weak. Developing a culture of ethics and compliance is crucial to maintaining an organization with a workforce that acts with integrity on a day-today basis.
A culture of integrity has certain characteristics, like a set of clear values, senior managers who behave ethically and regularly encourage employees to do so, and consistency of messaging. Your frontline managers should be engaged in reinforcing the culture on a daily basis. People at all levels of the organization should be held accountable for behaving ethically. Internal violations and other employee matters should be handled equitably, a key principle for keeping unions out of the workplace.
The organization needs to provide a variety of communication systems to appeal to multiple generations and provide consistent messaging. An effective communication system can send the message across generations in the format each generation prefers and by the people (i.e. CEO, supervisors, co-workers) each generation is most likely to pay attention to, i.e. CEO, middle managers, frontline supervisors and/or co-workers. That might be a
Younger generations learn best by doing as they’ve grown up with tablets and smartphones in their hands. For younger leaders, interactive eLearning may be the best training solution. Baby Boomers are often fact-finders and may appreciate having all the Company’s ethics reference information on an easily readable website.
Creating an ethical and compliant culture brings a lot of advantages, like a more engaged workforce. It’s also the foundation of creating a UnionProof culture because an ethical culture is supportive of employees, believes in equitable treatment, and is supported by strong and regular two-way communication between employees and managers. People in every generation want to be treated fairly.
Think about this: Baby boomers joined unions decades ago because they perceived their employers to be unethical, profit driven rather than people driven, unjust and non-communicative about Human Resources matters, i.e. promotion systems, pay scales, etc. Today, if all team members know their supervisor, and ultimately their employer, will stand behind them when they make tough, ethical decisions, it minimizes the odds of unions taking hold in your business. It’s the best way to stay union free.
The following is a guest post from Ronald Adler, President-CEO, Laurdan Associates, Inc.
Evolution is a process of change. In recent years we have seen a significant change in the HR auditing process, in the value derived from HR auditing, and in the HR audit tools used. HR audits have evolved from a simple checklist of dos and don’ts or periodic affirmative action plans to a comprehensive, sustainable process
1) is an integral part of the organization’s internal controls, due diligence, and risk management;
2) is a fundamental activity of strategic and operational management; and
3) uses sophisticated auditing products and consulting services. Increasingly HR audits are conducted of HR rather than by HR.
This paper reviews the change in HR audits, discusses the external and internal forces affecting the process and use of HR audits, and provides information about the leading HR auditing process.
The HR auditing process is — or should be — an independent, objective, and systematic evaluation that provides assurance that: 1) compliance and governance requirements are being met; 2) business and talent management objectives are being achieved; 3) human resource management risks are fully identified, assessed, and managed; and 4) the
organization’s human capital adds value. Under this definition, HR audits are more than an audit activity that solely collects and presents evidence of compliance. HR audits are increasingly expected to look behind and beyond the organization’s assertions of sound and proper HR management practices and to assess the assumptions being made, to benchmark the organization’s processes and practices, and to provide the necessary consultative services that help the organization achieve its business goals and objectives.
Numerous external forces and factors have had an impact on the demand for and scope of HR audits. First, in the global economy, human capital is becoming the single most important determinant of competitiveness, productivity, sustainability, and profitability.
Increasingly, the organization’s human capital is being recognized as the source of innovation and a driver of business success. Thus, to be effective in the global economy, HR audits must be diagnostic, predictive, and action oriented.
Second, a confluence of economic, political, and social factors, including corporate scandals, the failure of the financial industry to adequately assess risks, and increasing stockholder initiatives, have resulted in increased statutory and regulatory requirements, a call for greater transparency, and increased internal and external audit activity. Consider:
1) Sarbanes-Oxley requires effective internal controls. While Sarbanes-Oxley specifically requires effective internal financial controls, the financial and organizational costs of employment related claims and litigation can have a material effect on an organization’s bottom line, can have a negative impact on earnings per share and the organization’s valuation, and because employment litigation can negatively affect the organization’s employment brand, can impact the organization’s long-term sustainability.
2) Securities and Exchange Commission Guidelines require management to
“…exercise reasonable management oversight.” If human capital is one of the organization’s most important assets ─ it is certainly one of the organization’s largest expenses ─ is it not reasonable to expect that management applies the same level of oversight and due diligence to the management of the organization’s human capital as it does to the management of the organization’s other assets.
3) The U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines require that management demonstrate that it took reasonable steps to engender an organizational culture of compliance and to “monitor and audit” compliance activities, behaviors, and results. Ethical conduct and legal compliance, including nondiscriminatory employment practices, are achieved by management setting “the tone at the top.” Audits ─ including HR audits ─ provide the C-suite and boards of directors with important feedback about how effectively they are communicating this message.
4) Governmental agencies are attacking systemic noncompliance. The EEOC strongly encourages employers to conduct comprehensive HR audits as a tool to ensure that systemic discrimination does not exist. The OFCCP considers self-assessments a “best practice” and has issued its final voluntary guidelines for self-evaluation of compensation practices. The U.S. DOL considers wage and hour self-audits as a valuable tool in ensuring compliance, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and immigration attorneys encourage employers to self-audit their I-9s and hiring processes and practices to ensure compliance with U.S. immigration laws.
5) Venture capitalists, investors, and stockholders are scrutinizing organizations’ human resource management practices, processes, and outcomes and using HR audits to help them properly valuate an organization’s human capital asset, expose liabilities, and perform due diligence.
6) Recognizing the importance of the organization’s human capital asset and the risks associated with misaligned, mismanaged, and unlawful employment practices, internal auditors and risk managers are assuming a leadership role in developing HR auditing standards and in designing and conducting HR audits.
While an organization’s size, industry, financial health, commitment to becoming a “best place to work,” and business objectives and imperatives affect the scope and urgency of the HR audit process, we have noted some common features, attributes, and objectives in HR audits recently conducted.
1) HR audits are becoming increasingly complex and multi-dimensional. While ensuring compliance is still a basic goal of HR audits, other objectives
A. Ensuring the alignment of HR management and employment practices
with the organization’s business objectives.
B. Assessing the outcomes of the organization’s employment processes,
policies, practices, and procedures.
C. Developing the right human capital measurements and HR metrics to
allow the organization to calculate and measure the value added by human
resources, to determine the ROI and the return on the human capital asset, to measure the outcomes of employment policies and practices and the
achievement of EEO and diversity goals, and to benchmark best practices.
D. Ensuring due diligence, including: uncovering hidden liabilities and assets, identifying vulnerabilities to be corrected, and identifying opportunities to be attacked.
E. Developing HR auditing procedures that become an ongoing and
sustainable element of the organization’s internal controls.
F. Assessing and managing employment related fraud.
G. Developing HR auditing procedures that become an ongoing and
sustainable element of the organization’s risk management program.
2) HR audit reports are increasingly being used to report audit findings to wider audience. The distribution of the report on HR auditing findings is no longer limited to senior management. As noted above, an increasing number of third parties are expressing interest in the organization’s human resources management.
This list of external stakeholders includes not only investors, major stockholders, and venture capitalists, but also governmental agencies, NGO’s, civil rights groups, and plaintiff attorneys. Since HR audits findings include proprietary and confidential information and, in many cases, produce discoverable information, the implications of non-management stakeholders reviewing HR audit finding are significant and create a potentially serious problem for organizations. As a result, organizations are spending more time considering the format, content, and the
impressions created by their HR audit reports.
Recognized as setting the standard in HR auditing, the new edition of the ELLA®, the Employment-Labor Law Audit™, the leading HR auditing tool, incorporates the five critical components of an HR audit into the HR audit process. These five critical components, which should be addressed in every HR audit, are shown and discussed below in the HR Audit Model™.
1) Activities: The starting point of the HR auditing process is a review of
the organization’s activities, that is, the tasks and actions that create or implement employment policies, practices, procedures, and programs. Activities include such actions as the promulgation of an EEO policy statement, a sexual harassment policy, and other employment policies, and the posting of required employment posters. The Activities component of HR audits is typically evaluated by using a“checklist approach,” that is, the item is checked off when it is completed.
2) Behaviors: Behaviors in this context are actions and conduct that affect ─ either positively or negatively ─ the implementation or effectiveness of the organization’s policies, practices, procedures, and programs and demonstrate the organization’s commitment to stated goals and objectives. Examples of Behaviors
3) Risk Assessment: Risk assessment is the identification of current and/or
future events that have the potential to cause loss, peril, or vulnerabilities, and management’s willingness to accept those risks. Risk assessment is also the identification of events or conditions that create new opportunities for the organization to achieve its business objectives.
Risk assessment provides management with the information to make an informed decision about the allocation of the organization’s human, physical, and financial capital and about effective ways to eliminate, mitigate, control, or transfer those risks.
Human resource management and employment practices liability related risks include: employment law and regulation compliance failures; lost business opportunities due to the failure to attract, hire, and retain top talent; intangible asset losses due to turnover and the loss of top talent and key employees; ineffective staff development and succession planning; and lower profitability due to the inability to control labor costs.
HR auditing activities include assessments of the external and internal factors that impact human resource management and employment practices,
4) Internal Controls: Internal controls are processes, tests, and assessments that help ensure compliance, manage risks, identify fraud, and help ensure the achievement of organizational goals. HR auditing activities include: 1) assessments of the effectiveness and efficiency of HR management processes, policies, practices, and procedures; 2) the reliability and accuracy of HR management reporting; and 3) the level of compliance with laws and regulations, industry and professional standards, codes of conduct and ethics, organizational policies, and budgets.
5) Outcomes: Outcomes are quantitative and qualitative measurements and metrics that measure and help assess the achievement of organizational goals and objectives. HR auditing activity includes the identification of metrics used by the organization to measure organizational and individual performance; the assessment of results by comparing actual results against projected results, budgets, and internal and external standards; and a description of the activities, behaviors, and internal controls that are needed to maintain or improve future results.
The value of the HR Audit Model™ is that it helps organizations: 1) assess current HR management and employment practices; 2) identify and diagnosis systemic problems; 3) evaluate and predict the impact of corrective measures; 4) develop a plan of action; and 5) determine the ROI of such actions. Using the ELLA®, organizations enhance the value of their human capital, reduce their exposure to employment-related liabilities, and
improve their ability to achieve business objectives.
Laurdan Associates, Inc., is a human resources management consulting firm specializing in HR audits, employment practices liability risk management, HR metrics and benchmarking, strategic HR, and unemployment insurance cost management. Laurdan is the developer the Employment-Labor Law Audit™ (ELLA®), the nation’s leading HR auditing and employment practices liability risk assessment tool — now in the tenth edition. For more information, contact Ronald Adler, President-CEO, Laurdan Associates, Inc., 301-762 -5794, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.laurdan.com
As we head into the new year, we were curious (and thought you might be too) to find out what Projections most popular articles were in 2018! Here's what human resources and labor relations pros focused on!
To date, we’ve published over 600 blog posts on UnionProof, Projections, and A Better Leader. To put that into perspective, that’s equal to about a 2,500-page college essay or 2.3 copies of A Game Of Thrones.
I don’t know a single person in our industry who would enjoy sifting through ALL of those pages to find the information most relevant to them personally…
So we dove into the data and uncovered the top 7 articles of 2018 (plus some great additional material ), so you can find the best strategies for employee engagement, leadership and building your UnionProof culture in 2019!
(Hot Tip: bookmark this page and come back to it whenever you're looking for insight & inspiration!)
One thing we noticed in 2018 was the reoccurring theme of culture. It seems companies today are far more focused on creating an environment where unions are unnecessary - rather than trying to put out fires where they pop up. 5 Traits of A UnionProof Culture was our hands-down most popular post of 2018!
RELATED POSTS YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
How to Build a UnionProof Culture from Day One
Creating a UnionProof Culture Requires Courageous Leadership
Another vital topic in 2018 was decertification - how can a company become union-free without overstepping legal bounds? Back in April, we published Engaging A Union Workforce, all about how to show employees that they are stronger when they're directly connected to the company!
Culture popped up again related to leadership, over on the A Better Leader blog. Developing a Coaching Culture Through Leadership reminded us that leaders must ensure employees are always informed and have a voice, making your business union proof. Unions become irrelevant in an issue-free workplace where employees are engaged and feel free to discuss opportunities and challenges with management.
Creating a great foundation for the future was also high on the priority list for 2018. How To Create A Stellar Orientation Video provided our readers with 6 easy steps to prepare a consistent and powerful new hire message!
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The One Thing Your New Hire Orientation Is (Probably) Missing
5 Reasons Your Company Needs Video Onboarding
It seems you were also interested in understanding how employee complaints concerning poor communication in the workplace are often symptomatic of a larger, deeper problem. Back in February, The Right Communication is Key to Employee Engagement provided better understanding of how to bridge that gap
While this was a fantastic article back in March, we think maybe the image of someone sleeping on their desk might have resonated a little too much! 11 Subtle Signs Your Engagement Efforts May Not Be Working provided our readers with eye-opening insight into what they could change up to get greater engagement.
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A Unique Engagement Strategy That's Actually Working
The Impact of Supervisor Engagement
Of course, everyone loves powerful insight! The post-Janus article, 9 Things You Need To Know About the Role of Unions in 2018 really struck a chord over on LinkedIn! From Human Resources to collaboration, contracts and flexibility, and even the cost of unionization, this July article will reach far beyond 2018.
EmOf course, employers know that they spend a lot of money on benefits. Your employees, however, don’t always know that about a third of their compensation comes in the form of benefits like paid leave, insurance, and retirement savings. This is why employee benefits communication is so important.
According to the most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, benefits accounted for about 33% of employee compensation in June 2018. The specific percentage varies by industry, but none of the studied occupational groups had benefits that made up less than 31.4% of their compensation packages.
Your average employee just knows how much money he or she takes home on payday. For some employees, this situation can create the illusion that they aren’t receiving enough in return for their work.
Effective employee communication – through videos, dedicated websites, and eLearning – can keep them more informed about the role that benefits play in their total compensation. Before you can create a program that educates workers, though, you need to know how to approach the topic in the right way.
Telling your employees that benefits make up a third of their compensation package doesn’t always get the point across. The numbers on their paychecks feel real. Your employee benefits however, can feel far less tangible, making their total compensation feel less impressive.
Online videos make it easier to reveal the unseen side of compensation packages by giving employees visual representations of their benefits and take home pay.
For example, your benefits communication video might help with employee benefits communication by showing someone picking boxes off of a shelf and putting them into a cart. The first box that the person picks up represents the pay that employees receive. Not surprisingly, it’s a pretty big box that takes up more than 60% of the cart.
As the shopper continues to add items to the cart, your employees see, for instance, that:
When employees see these numbers represented as visual objects, they get a better sense of how much the unseen side of their compensation package is worth.
Online videos can seem a bit impersonal when the content doesn’t focus on their specific compensation package. A website that handles employee benefits communication by offering an interactive calculator to demonstrate the dollar value of benefits that an individual employee has accumulated over the past month, quarter, or year, however, puts the benefits – and total compensation – into perspective.
When your employees can check the benefits that they get, it’s easier for them to feel that they have received something. Suddenly, the benefits don’t seem vague. They become concrete numbers that apply to each individual.
Some people learn best when they can interact with information. Watching a video doesn’t match their learning preferences, so even the most effective production could miss its objective.
Interactive eLearning gives employees an opportunity to learn about their benefits from direct experience. Following the example above, your online training could ask employees to choose boxes that they think represent the different benefits that they receive.
When workers choose answers that don’t accurately reflect the value of their compensation, your eLearning can correct the learner and provide the accurate answers. After completing tasks, the training can summarize by reviewing the information and asking employees to select the correct boxes. This approach reinforces learning so everyone ends the training session with accurate knowledge of their true total compensation package.
Looking for more ways to demonstrate value? Learn more on educating your employees about their benefits by contacting us at Projections. Our team crafts expert custom video, websites, and eLearning solutions that will help you connect with your workforce, create true engagement and build your employer brand.