HR trends

How well do you know your data? GDPR was just the start

by Malcolm Bennett

There is one certainty in 2019, the pressure to secure data and privacy will get yet greater. 2018 brought GDPR and despite years of awareness building, many organizations failed to be compliant by May 25th. 

By August, three months past the deadline, a third of European companies had still not adequately protected the personal identifiable information stored in their EU data repositories. In the US, perhaps equally underestimating the impact of GDPR, a significant number of businesses were said to have strategically suspended activities in Europe.

GDPR, I’m confident, was the start of a global trend. One that will see organizations around the world changing the way they view privacy and personal data. So far, there are few published accounts of GDPR breaches and the consequences of these, but it is thought that regulatory forces will come into play as we hit the one-year anniversary in May.

In 2019 we’re also likely to see the rise of the informed customer. This will highlight brands that care about customers and those that don’t. Lost customers equal lost profits, as does damaged brand value. For the CEOs that fail to see the direct value of data will find it when they realize they have no option but to adhere to the progressive tightening of global data protection laws if their business is to continue.

In the US, business leaders from companies such as Google, Apple and Twitter, have said they’re keen to back a national data regulation to replace current state-level laws. It’s thought this will avoid a scenario similar to GDPR. It will also be easier to manage and comply with while still ensuring individuals maintain control over use of their personal data.

Data needs more than protection. It needs releasing

It’s not just data protection HR professionals need to consider as we move into the 2020’s. It’s how to release the value of stored data. The evidence is out that insights into people data can greatly improve business outcomes. Everything you need to know about your workforce is held in your HR data, from individual and group performance to gender breakdown.

All the time new local, regional and global laws are being set-out to protect employees. Both sides of the Atlantic there are crackdowns on discriminatory job advertisements and efforts to prevent unconscious bias, for example. Only by understanding the demographics of your workforce, the skills they hold and the training needed to address future skills gaps can you ever achieve a workplace that simply employs the best people for the job with no excluding factors. 

Beyond the conscious decision to run ethical businesses, these changes will not be optional in the future. Organizations that don’t address workforce imbalances and behaviors will face potential legal consequences. HR professionals striving to attract and retain the best talent, to improve the workplace and to protect and grow reputations, must keep ahead of changing expectations in HR compliance to avoid future challenges and breakdowns.

I recommend you keep an eye on The NGA HR blog for regular updates on HR compliance and legislation changes coming to you around the world in 2019 and beyond.