The GDPR opportunity for British HR

The GDPR opportunity for British HR
Easy Software

Howard Frear

Howard Frear

Director of Sales & Marketing

EASY Software’s Howard Frear reviews the benefits of document management to the HR function to streamline operations as well as comply with GDPR.

It may surprise you, but as an HR professional the imminent EU-wide General Data Protection Regulation will give you a great way to digitally transform the way you work.

How so? Because GDPR is all about establishing new, secure way of working, ensuring all personnel data is available on a single system that allows all information to be accessed, viewed and mined.

It will also help ensure the accuracy of data stored in your databases. Looking at new data-driven ways of reaching out to employees and running recruitment campaigns, for example. While enabling you to maintain compliance, such transparent communications will be welcomed by your employees GDPR will also require you to update employment contracts to comply with the regulation. While going through these documents, make it a useful exercise, looking at ways you might improve efficiencies in exchanging information and where workflows can be enhanced.

For instance, a digital HR platform will provide greater access for employees, who could be offered a highly useful self-service portal for logging their personal details, providing documentation or reporting concerns. Such functionality also helps to ease the on-boarding process, plus encourages staff retention and loyalty.

Training your people

GDPR isn’t just about technology and data, it is also about people. It is therefore important that the people within your organisation are data protection aware going forward. They need to understand the way the new regulation works for their job role, and how personal, customer and corporate data needs to be handled correctly and within the boundaries of the regulation.

In particular, GDPR’s introduction should be an open door to running a data-hygiene education programme to formally qualify data experts in your organisation. These designated data experts should not only understand GDPR, but also compliance expectations – ensuring your organisation is meeting requirements at all levels.

Keep employee data secure

GDPR should be a spur to carrying out a thorough look at how security is managed in your HR function. Therefore, look to start ensuring privacy by design. This means that any action you undertake in processing employee data must be carried out with data protection and privacy at the forefront of every step in the process.

Cyberattacks are also on the increase, so it is imperative you shore up security across the board using best-in-class security tools, password protection, anti-virus software and other data protection capabilities. Indeed, Wannacry and similar ransom attacks and malware events should have convinced you it is time to transition off legacy HR systems that could leave you open to risk of blackmail or even shutdown.

Run a system-wide audit as part of your GDPR initiatives to see exactly what hardware and software you are running and what needs replacing to mitigate against this peril. Be aware that the older the technology, the less likely it is able to deal with new emergent threats out there.

Dispose of data serving no purpose

Storing data for data’s sake is inefficient, pointless and expensive. It’s been estimated that no less than 120 separate processes can touch an employee across the lifecycle of a typical employment and the sheer volume of data generated has expanded dramatically, as the requirements of health and safety, employment law and regulatory compliance have created vast amounts of documentation that must be stored and kept up to date.

So avoid data hoarding! It lowers productivity and could also pose a threat to the ‘right to be forgotten’ clause in GDPR.

Instead, use HR policies and procedures to cleanse data to make sure you are only holding required personal data. This is also an ideal way to ensure archival and retrieval procedures are in place to ensure compliancy at this level.

Adding value, not chasing paper

Believe it or not, GDPR is actually a positive, as it is driving us all toward a data-driven way of working, as it creates a central information management resource from which to carry out more advanced workflow and employee lifecycle management.

Plus, the workflow elements of a digital strategy can go far beyond the traditional HR set of core processes and supporting documentation – through recruitment but also in the retention and Business As Usual phase of employment, as it can help to bring all of these individual areas onto a single central digital platform.

So instead of fearing GDPR, turn it into competitive advantage, a catalyst for positive data change, and unlock its business potential. It gives you a real opportunity to make organisational information accessible, secure and up to date, which is a struggle all too familiar for most HR professionals – and get ahead of the competition and win staff trust.

At the same time, paper-lite/digital HR means your job becomes more about adding value than chasing paper while you can be reassured your organisation is always protected against any employee dispute, GDPR and any other data protection legalities.

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