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Job hopping trend presents data privacy problems – here’s what to do about it

Job hopping is the new normal. Talk to anyone in their early 30s and the chances are they will have changed jobs at least four times since leaving full-time education.
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This trend has implications for employees and their staff. For job hopping employees, it presents obvious challenges in terms of how they manage their finances, their pension plans and their working relationships with colleagues. For employers, alongside the loss of knowledge and the drain on resources to recruit and train new employees, it creates the often ignored information management challenge.

An inconvenient truth about job hopping that few of us consider is the trail of personal information we leave behind. We leave records containing highly sensitive information such as CVs and copies of our passports, ID cards and driving licenses, we leave salary information, performance reviews, a disciplinary record and even, in some instances, details of medical history.

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The law dictates that such information should be retained and securely deleted after a defined period of time. But with the average millennial worker set to have up to 16 jobs during their career, keeping track of which employer holds what information and until when is an impossible task.

Both employers and staff alike probably don’t give it a second thought. However, many expect their personal data to be protected and managed according to legal requirements. After all, we have a right to be forgotten and should be able to trust employers to respect that right. Herein lies the information challenge facing HR departments and information and records managers everywhere.

An employee leaving represents a trigger event that starts a clock ticking. This requires the employer to ensure employment records associated with the individual employee are destroyed at a predetermined date some five, six or more years into the future. This event-based retention and destruction of records is hard to get right. Think of the numbers of clocks that are ticking in any HR department, all set to go off at different times. Think of the complexity involved in making sure that all copies of digital and paper records are accounted for.

Overlay the complexity with the increasing staff turnover and evolving data privacy rules and it’s easy to see why businesses and HR departments in particular have a tough clean up job ahead of them once a job hopping employee has left the building.

Recent research from Iron Mountain shows 50 per cent of mid-market businesses in Europe and the US are poorly placed to meet the requirements of event-based retention. These firms are mostly managing HR records with out-of-date processes which could put personal information at risk. The same research found 31 per cent store HR documents relating to employees longer than they are legally entitled, while 25 per cent are unaware of the legal requirements.

There’s no doubt getting event-based retention right is a headache for businesses. The 2013-2014 Information Governance Benchmarking Survey by Cohasset Associates, ARMA International and AIIM revealed 67 per cent of organisations believe records and information management programmes would benefit from fewer event-based retention periods. Perhaps that’s no surprise considering HR records are just the tip of the iceberg for businesses looking to comply with retention rules.

Read on for tips on what to do when a job hopping employee goes to pastures new

Image: Shutterstock

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As the champion of UK enterprise for 20 years, Real Business is the most-read SME website dedicated to high-growth businesses and entrepreneurs. Through daily news, unique insight and invaluable guides we are an essential resource for thriving businesses.

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