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A matter of trust: Protecting employee data

From sales incentive programs to employee reward and recognition programs, companies have a range of tools to motivate workers and boost performance.

From sales incentive programs to employee reward and recognition programs, companies have a range of tools to motivate workers and boost performance. To be effective, most performance management technology works by collecting information about employees and their activity. Demographical data as well as individual preferences can all contribute to a strong, high-impact program.

However, in gathering this information, businesses take on the responsibility of keeping it safe and available only to authorized viewers. Therefore, it's critical for companies to choose technology vendors that uphold stringent data privacy and protection protocol – including for employee reward programs.

Data breach threats on the rise 
A string of recent high-profile data breaches has brought information security to the forefront of the national consciousness. Although the biggest headlines have centered on mammoth retail data incidents, the threat is no less pressing for smaller, non-retail companies. Regularly, news sources reveal that organizations from academic institutions to large corporations inadvertently compromised private identity information, exposing thousands to fraud.

For example, Coca Cola recently experienced a data breach that exposed the personal information of 70,000 of its former and current employees. As The Wall Street Journal reported, this incident wasn't the result of a high-tech, coordinated cyberattack – instead, it happened when sensitive data was left unprotected on company laptops, which have been missing since a former worker stole them. Thus, data security goes beyond firewalls and network antivirus protection. Company policies and the programs used to collect and store information must all be part of a comprehensive security effort.

According to Verizon's 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report, incidents cut across all sectors and industries. Any organization can fall victim to a breach, which is why vigilance and best practices are imperative.

Heavy impact 
A recent Ponemon Institute study entitled "The Business Impact of Data Breach," which was commissioned by Scott & Scott, LLP, revealed that breaches are not only shockingly common – they're also very costly. Eighty-five percent of the survey's respondents indicated that they had experienced an incident, with 74 percent reporting a loss of customers, 59 percent facing possible litigation and 33 percent having to pay fines.

Compromising sensitive information can severely erode trust in an organization, whether the data exposed is about employees or customers. When data breaches and poor data privacy procedures reveal workers' personal information, they might lose confidence in their employer. This sentiment could also spread to other potential job candidates, making it more difficult for companies to fill vital roles. Additionally, customers might start to wonder whether the company can ensure the protection of their sensitive information as well. If an organization can't keep its workers' details safe, how can people be sure it's capable of protecting its clients' information?

Choosing compliant programs 
Although cybercriminals develop increasingly sophisticated ways to break into networks everyday, using programs that are compliant with the latest trust service principles can help to fight off some of the risk associated with retaining sensitive information. For systems that collect private identification data, SOCII attestation is one of the strongest standards for ensuring high levels of appropriate security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy. Utilizing a program with this designation not only helps to keep information safe, it demonstrates a commitment to making data privacy a priority.

Xceleration recently underwent a rigorous attestation process to verify that its services and programs adhere to the latest SOCII standards. Recognizing the negative impact that data breaches can wage on individuals and companies, we want to offer products that fully uphold our pledge to provide our customers and their employees with comprehensive control over their Personally Identifiable Information. With the autonomy and assurance provided by SOCII-compliant resources, businesses can maintain their commitment to data security and continue to build communities founded on trust.

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