Every day, millions of Americans go to work, fully expecting that they will return home safe and sound. So as an employer counting on them to fulfill your business demands, you owe it to your employees to provide a safe and fair environment. This is more important than ever during a global pandemic.
However, it is more than just cleaning up spills. As technology advances, we face new threats that often target our workforce, and employer responsibilities must evolve along with them. Let’s talk about how to protect the workforce in this modern world.
Protecting Employee Data
Ever since the controversy surrounding Donald Trump’s win for President in 2016, cybersecurity has been a constant talking point in the news. There are hackers around the world who spend their time breaking into personal computers and business entities in order to get their hands on the data of your workers, which they can sell on the black market. Without the proper protections, a hacker can easily break into the Human Resources system and steal employee references, emergency contact information, birthdates, and more. Almost any piece of information can be weaponized. Email addresses can be used to send scam emails, and social security numbers can be used to take out fraudulent loans.
Not only that but as the years go by, physical paperwork is rapidly being replaced by digital forms and signatures. While having paperwork backed up online is essential, you do not want this information leaking into the wrong hands. In fact, there have recently been reports of hackers stealing digital signatures and using them for illegal purposes.
For these reasons and more, companies need to step up their security game to protect their employees from becoming victims. All information should be secured and backed up on remote servers that are air-gapped from the main system. The software and antivirus programs that protect this data must be updated regularly, and scans should be completed daily. All data should also be encrypted, so even if a hacker does break into the system, they cannot use the information they obtain.
Train Employees on the Dangers and Solutions
While almost everyone knows that we need to be smart about data security, it is the employer’s responsibility to keep the staff informed about current threats and how to avoid them, so no one in your organization is in danger. Start with educating them on effective passwords.
They should be complex with a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Set up email reminders to have them update their computer password once per month and never let them use the same one twice.
One of the most famous means of hacking a computer system is via social engineering. And one of the most successful of these scams is the phishing email, which is a communication sent to unsuspecting victims that attempt to get a rise out of the recipient, so they will click a link or open an attachment. Hackers try to get an emotional response by pretending that the email is sent by an authority figure like the bank or their boss. Inform employees of the signs of phishing scams, which include:
- An unofficial email address from a place like Google or Yahoo.
- A link or attachment that you were not expecting.
- Emails with many spelling errors.
These days, a lot of employees are working remotely, and when they go out in public, educate them on Man in the Middle Attacks, which are essentially fake Wi-Fi connections set up by hackers. When an employee works from a public place, they need to ask the manager about the real Wi-Fi account in which to connect. When you attach your device to one of these fake Wi-Fi connections, the hacker can gain access to their entire system, including employee information.
Physical Protection is Still a Must
Although digital threats are the new normal these days, employers must still do their part to protect employees from physical dangers as well. All companies must follow the safety guidelines provided by OSHA, but just knowing that you have rules to follow is not enough. You also want to have regular inspections to ensure that all equipment is properly maintained and employees are following required safety guidelines.
Employers need a safety checklist of items that must be revisited on a regular basis. For instance:
- All employees should wear protective eyewear.
- All emergency exits need to remain clear.
- All chemicals need to be properly labeled.
- All workspaces must be clean and organized.
In these uncertain economic times, some workers may be dealing with extra stress that can impact their concentration. Encourage employees to come to you if they feel fatigued and make sure that everyone gets their breaks and lunches.
Remember that it is not only warehouses and industrial work that requires a safe environment. Offices also need to keep safety in mind by avoiding spilled beverages, closing cabinet drawers, and having employees take a break from looking at their screens for too long. The best responsibility that a company can have is to have regular safety meetings where important reminders and initiatives are shared. You are never too busy for a safety discussion.
Our modern world is changing day by day, but the safety of our workforce will always be the top priority. Employers who take the right steps will have more satisfied employees.
Sam Bowman, often called a “business guru” by his peers, is a professional writer and health enthusiast. Fascinated by the latest technological trends, he brings people up to speed by crafting bite size explanations. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.
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