Workplace Etiquette Essentials: Understanding Confidentiality

By February 7, 2016Job Tips

At its heart, workplace confidentiality is about respecting an employer’s wishes to control its data. Those who adhere to this basic form of workplace etiquette demonstrate their trustworthiness and future employment eligibility. They also leave themselves less exposed to the legal liability actions that commonly follow information breaches.

Of course, effective corporate privacy involves more than just knowing how to keep a secret. Here are some of the common pitfalls workers and employers ought to avoid.

Don’t Forget to Institute a Policy
Employers can’t take secrecy for granted or simply assume their employees will know how to maintain it. According to Business Management Daily, policies ought to describe the nature of sensitive data that might need to be safeguarded as well as provide company-approved methods for keeping it under wraps.

The Canadian nonprofit HR Council goes even further to say that policies should also detail the kinds of consequences employees may face for violating the rules. Most sources agree that employers need to cover critical privacy concepts during introductory orientation sessions. New hires should also sign documents acknowledging that they understand and consent to the privacy terms.

Be as Cautious as Possible 

Data breaches aren’t always due to intentional violations of workplace etiquette. In many cases, technology simply gets ahead of companies and their staff. Alternatively, employees may innocently discuss matters with other staff without realizing that those individuals aren’t cleared to receive the information in question.

While employers play a major role in instituting policies that prevent such mishaps, workers also need to remain vigilant. In most cases, it’s advisable to refrain from discussing anything related to work unless you have explicit permission. For instance, even though your friends may be dying to hear about your new job, it’s best to simply let them know you’re not permitted to talk about it.

Suppose your well-meaning uncle happens to gossip to someone that you’re working on such-and-such product and word gets back to your employer. Although the rumor may not have included any mission-critical details about the project, your boss could still lose faith in your ability to be trusted with vital work. By spilling the beans, you may have limited your career options.

Supplement Rule Following with Smart Judgment 
Finally, remember that employment policies and agreements might not cover everything. For instance, your new boss may take it on faith that you won’t discuss your salary with other workers or share passwords to corporate resources with colleagues who forget theirs.

Always think about the potential consequences of your actions, and act accordingly. Confidentiality can be tricky, but those who adhere to it properly have an easier time maintaining gainful employment and forging healthy professional relationships.