The pandemic has proliferated discussions around data privacy, with contact tracing apps and increased reliance on tech services sparking questions around the protection of personal data. With a large number of companies having to communicate and collaborate with employees who are working from home, maintaining visibility and openness has never been more important, especially when it comes to employee wellbeing. However, personal information needs to be held privately and only accessible to those who are authorised. Software that is secure and allows management to signpost individuals to supportive resources is crucial and will build trust and willingness in the workforce to share more.
H&M data deviations
It was recently announced that prominent clothing retailer, H&M Group, has been fined €35.3 million (£32.1m) as a result of employment privacy breaches, representing the largest fine since GDPR regulations were implemented. The breaches relate to findings that team leaders were holding return to work interviews or “chats” after employees returned from sick leave or holidays. Personal information about employees’ private lives, such as why they were ill, issues at home, and religious beliefs, were digitally stored. Not only was this data accessible by 50 managers, but it was stored next to performance evaluations to create staff profiles to direct any employment decisions that needed to be made!
Why you need anonymous visibility
This case example exemplifies the benefits that a system like e-days can provide in avoiding nasty data breaches. Employee data can only be seen by those in the business who should be allowed to view it, offering fine-grained control for management and assurance for the employee. By utilising a universal cloud-based system that can track and manage absence, holiday, and sick leave among other factors, you are eradicating the surreptitious meetings and collection of personal data shown above. Across the company, from admins and employees to managers, there is access to the same easy to use system. No awkward questions and probing needs to occur; there’s safety with visibility. Transparency across the company allows employees to see their leave entitlement and managers to act on shortages. Shared holiday calendars and intelligent tracking systems allow teams to stay in the loop and avoid burnout. Personal data is not a factor and there’s visibility to all to appease any anxieties that may arise – employees know what they are inputting and what their managers can see.
Increased efficiency and employee wellbeing
The other striking aspect of the story is the fact personal data was being stored next to performance evaluations to dictate ‘employment decisions’. Let’s face it – it’s never a good thing when personal lives become too entwined with your working life, let alone to judge your performance. We know people have to deal with a plethora of issues away from work.
The ability to track holiday and sickness absence trends allows employers to (for)see if problems are apparent. They then have the ability to subsequently help employees, if this is the case, rather than pinpointing them on the spot once they have returned from an absence or period away.
Again, there’s no need to ask personal questions and delve into employees’ personal lives.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it allows you to champion employee wellbeing. These tools enable you to improve the lives of those who are in the office or working from home. By tracking
sickness absence and employees working from home or furloughed, companies can be proactive in the management and help to prevent peaks in unplanned absence, thus reducing the workload of those who can still work.
At this time whilst it’s important to have more information on employee wellness and productivity, it’s also important that we operate within the constraints of data privacy and respect the use of employee data.