Information security for staff turnover

Employee turnover is an unwelcome reality for any business. In fact, survey findings from the Australian Human Resources Institute revealed an average turnover figure of 16% in Australia.

Staff turnover comes with a few negative side effects, such as costly recruitment processes and disruption to workflow, but the one that presents most risk is the loss of internal information.

And the stakes only get higher the more senior or imperative your departing staff members are.

It may not be with malicious intent, but senior employees who have long been entrusted to deal with sensitive company information and data will nearly always take it with them – along with their valuable skills and knowledge.

This puts businesses at great risk of losing their competitive edge, data security breaches, and even reduced revenues – that is, unless departure is managed appropriately.

Here are a few HR management practices businesses should implement to avoid the loss of valuable internal information when key staff members move on.

Non-disclosure agreements    

It’s important for companies to have clear policies in place to prevent employees from mishandling or taking away important data and information.

A formal non-disclosure agreement (NDA) should make clear that all information and documents created by the employee, or elsewhere in a company, are the property of the company and remain confidential.

While an NDA is expected to act as a deterrent against the misuse of company information, it gives companies legal recourse to pursue ex-employees in the event of non-compliance.

Data protection

Data protection presents an ongoing challenge for most businesses today. Not least because cloud technology enables employees to access internal documents and systems from anywhere, at any time, and with any device.

The associated risks can be mitigated by ensuring every personal device used to access and store company information can be remotely wiped by IT upon an employee’s departure.

With the increasing use of cloud software, sensitive and confidential information should always be protected by robust authentication processes to prevent unauthorised access.

For example, access to highly confidential information might require two-factor authentication – or even approval from an alerted compliance officer when an attempt to access is made.

Of course, changing passwords each time an employee leaves can be a painstaking process. Applications like 1Password can keep all passwords for apps and cloud software securely hidden on authorised company devices and can change passwords regularly with ease – so this essential information isn’t only kept inside your employees’ minds.

Succession planning

Key employees often leave organisations for more senior roles and new, exciting responsibilities.

In this case, we’re not just talking about the risk of ex-employees exposing confidential information, but the loss of valuable skills, experience, and knowledge which, inevitably, will be applied elsewhere.

So, it’s important for businesses to consider their retention strategies and policies as crucial to minimising the risk of losing valuable information through outgoing staff.

Succession planning in a business is designed to promote continued development of employees through new internal opportunities.

Not only does this incentivise key staff to remain with the business, but the business will benefit from a more experienced workforce, stability, and the increased likelihood of achieving business objectives faster.

Diversify management

When recruitment is done well, key managerial skills and competencies can be easily transferred across different sectors of a business.

By implementing a management structure that encourages managers to become involved with other teams, products, and services, the risk of falling foul of a skills or knowledge gap when someone leaves will be greatly minimised.

What’s more, a non-siloed management structure could even have a positive impact on morale, career development, and ultimately, that all-important staff retention.

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