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Avoid getting your wires crossed: Safeguard with the right Technology Policies.

Employees now use technology in almost every task they undertake to include hardware, software, networks, data, internet, social media platforms and more. So how can you safeguard your investments and reputation against misuse?

Having an appropriate IT policy (or set of policies) is an essential need for all companies – no matter how small. But no two companies have the same business structure, culture or technology needs, so neither should they have the same policy approach.

Like any other effective employment policy, having a clear and documented position removes ambiguity over what is expected. It helps to protect the security of your business (and client businesses) by preventing misuse and helps to protect your reputation by being clear on the use of social media.

Understanding the right approach for your business is not always easy. We have outlined the following 7 steps to help build the right solution for you:

  1. Understand the risks for your business. Undertake a risk assessment to identify your risks in this space. Consider some of the following areas:
    • What types of technology do employees use during work?
    • How are employees required to handle data?
    • Do employees work from home and if they do, what types of personally owned technology are they using in conjunction with company owned technology?
    • How much are employees required to use Social Media during their work?
    • Do you know what your staff are looking at online?
    • Do you know what personal files are being stored on your network?
  1. Consider the culture are you looking to create. It’s important to consider the culture of your company and the type of working environment you are looking to establish for your employees. Some companies prefer strict rules – this can help to limit unproductive time if you feel there is an overuse of the internet or social media at work. Others choose a more relaxed and trusting atmosphere whereby a reasonable level of personal use is acceptable – this can help to improve loyalty and engagement among employees. The key point is that whatever the right approach for your organisation, having it clearly documented, communicated and regularly reviewed is a must.
  1. Think about how many policies you need. Again, this will depend on the nature of your business. For small businesses with a simple set up, one basic IT Usage Policy works as a catch-all that conveniently and succinctly covers off all major requirements. If your needs are more complex, then separate, more detailed, policies may be required. For example, IT Usage Policy, Internet and Social Media Policy, IT Security Policy. Regardless of the number of policies you choose, the aim is to be clear, direct and easy to understand. 
  1. Agree the appropriate actions the company should undertake. You will need to consider how you want to monitor employee activity. Speak to your IT service provider about the type of monitoring you think would be appropriate and make sure you comply with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will apply from 25 May.  You should also be clear about the potential disciplinary action that may be taken against an employee found to be in contravention of the policy.
  1. Get implementation right. Implementation is as important as the content of your policy. Make sure your implementation plan works within the law and results in all employees knowing and understanding expectations. Ideally your implementation will be a conversation between staff and leadership with opportunities to share examples and take questions. 
  1. Keep it current. Undertaking an annual review of your policy is recommended. Technology is changing very fast. A regular review will help to keep the policy legally sound and provide time for you to adjust based on employee feedback or to help clarify elements that are not as black and white as they first appear. As before, updates should be communicated and understood by all employees. 
  1. Engage help to get it right. You might not have the time, inclination or expertise to research and write your own employment policies. If you need support, call on Perfect Vision HR to help provide a solution that is fully tailored to your circumstances.

If you’d like some help to develop appropriate policies or work place practices, please get in touch with Emma at Perfect Vision HR. Contact us on 07966 033316 or emma@perfectvisionhr.com

Perfect Vision HR provides clear, practical and invaluable HR Consultancy advice and partnership to SMEs.

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