In the world of business and technology, information is power. Most companies keep sensitive information about their clients, employees, products, services, vendors, and more confidential. However, some employees may feel that they cannot trust others with this information or may feel pressure to share it. When an employee breaches confidentiality in the workplace, it can be a major problem for the company and its ability to function effectively moving forward.
Every company needs to have clear policies in place regarding employee confidentiality as well as consequences for breaching that confidentiality if there is a breach. Here are some important facts about employee confidentiality in the workplace and what you should do if you have been breached.
You can read more about breaches of confidentiality at work here.
What Is Employee Confidentiality In The Workplace?
Employee confidentiality is the act of keeping business and employee information private. This can include things like trade secrets, client information, financials, or anything that could give an advantage to a competitor if they were to find out. It is important to note that employee confidentiality is not the same thing as privacy.
Privacy is something that every employee has an expectation of within the workplace, while confidentiality is something that an employee agrees to uphold by signing a contract or nondisclosure agreement. If you are an employer, it is your responsibility to make sure your employees understand what is confidential and what is not. Employees should also understand the consequences of breaching confidentiality.
Why Is Employee Confidentiality Important In The Workplace?
If you have ever worked in a common area, like a cubicle farm, you know that it can be difficult to keep your work completely private. Your co-workers are on either side of you and could easily see what you are doing. When you are on the phone with a client, there is no way to keep the conversation private. The best way to protect sensitive information and keep it between you and the person you are talking with is to keep it confidential.
In the workplace, confidentiality makes sure that all of your employees know that they should be keeping everything they hear or see confidential. If they know that there are real consequences for breaching confidentiality, they will be less likely to breach it themselves.
Breaching Confidentiality In The Workplace: Harmful Effects
Breaching confidentiality can cause a lot of damage. For one thing, your company could lose clients and revenue because of information getting out. If a client’s competitors learn how much your client has spent or what they are using, they may decide to undercut them or offer a better deal. If a client’s competitors find out about their services, products, or plans, it could seriously hinder their ability to accomplish their goals.
There are other potential harms to breaching confidentiality as well. If an employee who breached confidentiality is in an HR meeting or conference call, the person on the other end of the line could call the company and report the employee for being unprofessional. If a client overhears an employee talking about confidential information, the client could decide to stop doing business with the company. The information may also be damaging to your employees’ reputation, making it harder for them to do their jobs effectively if clients are against them.
Steps To Take If You Have Been Breached
If you have been breached, the first step is to try to figure out how the breach happened. This will help you to know what to do next. Ask yourself questions like, “Who has access to this information?” and “Are there any times when a person may have inadvertently breached confidentiality?” Next, you will want to decide what you want to do about the breach. There are a few options: You can seek to repair the damage, you can fire or otherwise discipline the employee, or you can try to prevent the breach from happening again.
The best choice for you will depend on your situation. If you decide to fire the employee, make sure you follow the correct protocol, so you don’t end up losing a wrongful termination lawsuit. If you decide to discipline an employee, make sure that you follow your company’s procedures for doing so.
Breaching confidentiality can have serious consequences for your company, your employees, and your clients. Make sure that you clearly communicate what information is confidential and what the consequences for breaching confidentiality are so that no one makes an accidental mistake. If your company has been breached, it is important to take the necessary actions to deal with the situation as soon as possible so that the damage can be contained.