Keeping Confidential Conversations at work

 In Confedentility

difficult conversationsxKeeping Confidential Conversations at work

Employees also face confidentiality issues in their relationships to colleagues due to the information they receive as site visitors, consultants, supervisors, administrators, reviewers of documents, grants proposals, fellowship applications, and supervisors. These roles all allow for access to confidential peer information.

If a colleague shares sensitive information with you, or if you participate in committees or other groups that deal with sensitive or controversial topics, it is important for everyone to have a conversation about the expectations and how they will maintain confidentiality. These conversations should be properly secured and an agreement reached regarding their storage and disposal.

Special attention should be paid to matters that could lead to disciplinary action by a body, board or institution. Individuals who report or respond to allegations of violations of professional codes or codes of ethics are also handling confidential matters. They are acting in a confidential relationship and with the adjudicating authority. It is prudent to keep all aspects of a matter secret until the final decision is made. It is crucial that the adjudicating authority clarifies what information can be shared and which information must be kept confidential once a final decision has been made.

Individuals need to be familiar with relevant laws and organisational policies in order to disclose decisions made by adjudicating boards. It is not prudent to assume that all cases can be made public. Even if the outcome is public, it’s often necessary to keep confidential earlier filings, testimony and deliberations.

It is possible to diffuse tension by telling employees what information is confidential, so they can ask for it in confidence. Most of the time, this is because HR doesn’t have to keep too many things secret. However, it is expected that you exercise discretion and good judgment. Good HR professionals try to keep employees’ sensitive information to a minimum.

Last Thoughts

Employees shouldn’t expect to be treated confidentially and unrestricted by their employer. This is a little too optimistic. HR must also dispel the often-held belief that it is the employees against the company. The most valuable and costly asset for any company is its employees. They are the ones who do the actual work and have a unique perspective. It’s important to build a relationship with them in order for you to trust them with information about their work experience.

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