8 Aug 2018
In the weeks up to May 25th 2018, emails relating to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) were dropping into mailboxes every day and, as the most prominent change to EU data privacy laws in the last 20 years, the GDPR was attracting a lot of attention. It covers the processing, storage and management of personal data for employees, customers and other individuals, to ensure that their privacy rights are respected.
Every business has been impacted by GDPR and failure to comply with the new regulation will result in penalties that could prove costly to both the bottom line and an organisation’s reputation amongst its employees and customers. For the HR professional (among the most significantly affected) GDPR is now a fact of life, but whether this is a burden or a blessing remains to be seen.
The HR team handles sensitive and often confidential information about employees every day and this means they are well equipped to lead by example and demonstrate to other areas of the business how personal data should be handled since the introduction of GDPR. In some companies this has meant the hiring of a person responsible for compliance with the GDPR. For example, companies with 250 or more employees and public organisations must hire one or more Data Protection Officers.
The intention here is not to discuss the do’s and don’ts of GDPR, but rather to consider whether the benefits of compliance will outweigh the costs in the long run. For example, compliance may result in high quality employee data that HR can analyse to predict business performance. To this end a good HR management system and processes are a must. Set up properly, an efficient system and processes can put the HR team on the front foot with confidence in the quality and value of their data in a data driven business world. GDPR requires commitment and a lot of effort, but may provide the opportunity for HR to take a leading role in the big data revolution, offering substantial benefits for organisational performance.
Practically, HR departments will need to minimise the amount of personal information that is collected and maintain it for only as long as it is needed by the organisation. To reap the benefits of people analytics, you will need to apply the ‘less is more’ approach. Whilst some organisations may prefer to keep lots of employee data for future use, it costs time and money to manage and (more importantly within the context of this article) it is in conflict with the GDPR’s data minimisation principle. Devise strategies for what is held and where, only retaining data that is relevant and necessary and ensure that it is used efficiently.
Keep employees up to date with changes, informing them how and who will have access to information, and how their data is handled through people analytics. The challenge is to find ways to engage your employees and minimise the problems associated with resistance to change and those organisations without good HR systems to manage and support the process will suffer.
Frontier Software provides a global HRIS offering integrated modules across all aspects of human resource and payroll management with an integral reporting tool for easy and efficient data reporting.
This article was published in the August 2018 issue of Public Sector Focus Magazine