Companies back employee privacy but don't deliver it

employee snoop

In a new survey of over 1,200 IT and security practitioners 63 percent say it's important or very important to protect employees' privacy in the workforce, yet only 34 percent of organizations think they are effective or very effective in doing so.

The study, carried out by the Ponemon Institute for workforce cyber intelligence company DTEX Systems, also finds that most organizations have a difficult time balancing workforce privacy with the growing need to monitor employee engagement and internal risk, given the shift to remote work.

It's difficult to track employee activity and performance without affecting their morale or trust in the organization according to 64 percent of respondents. At the same time, 53 percent of enterprises believe their employees expect their personal behaviors and activities will remain private, but less than half (47 percent) anonymize the employee data they collect while monitoring for security risk and operational performance.

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"A key takeaway from this research is that workforce privacy must be a top priority, not simply just a feel good goal," says DTEX Systems chief customer officer, Rajan Koo. "The workforce is a source of incredible intelligence, yet organizations continue to fall into a 'big brother' surveillance approach that erodes trust and transparency. Draconian tech solutions in the marketplace are only worsening this problem. The findings of this report make it clear -- a reckoning is coming."

Despite the fact that 58 percent of organizations minimize the amount of data collected about their employees, less than half (49 percent) provide transparency about what information is collected onsite and in remote locations. Only 35 percent of organizations enable their employees to express any concerns about the protection of their privacy in remote locations, and just 43 percent use technologies that increase employee trust in the monitoring of access and use of sensitive information.

"Our findings illustrate that organizations need a new approach to workforce privacy, one that embraces the long-standing privacy-by-design approach both in philosophy and in the technology chosen to harvest workforce intelligence," adds Larry Ponemon, research director and president of the Ponemon Institute. "This is supported by the fact that only 38 percent of respondents said their organizations have the right technologies to mitigate risks and promote efficiency without invading personal privacy. With the other 62 percent of organizations missing the mark, it's critical employers shift their mindset about why and how they learn from their workforce."

You can get the full 2021 State of Workforce Privacy and Risk Report from the DTEX site.

Photo Credit: O Driscoll Imaging/Shutterstock

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