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General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has become a landmark bill for the data protection laws across the globe. It is a comprehensive set of rules that have been created to tackle the modern challenges related to data protection and privacy. The novel nature and approach of the regulation not only makes it effective, but also compels businesses to learn how to deal with this new regulatory environment and avoid attracting any kind of fines or other sanctions.
And businesses have been given substantial time to ensure that.
On 14th April, 2016, the governments across the EU approved GDPR. It was an extensive list of regulations that would monitor and regulate the flow of personal data of the EU residents in and out of organisations. And 25th May, 2018 was set as the date of enforcement of the law. This gave organisations a good 2-year period to prepare and ready their processes to be compliant with GDPR.
A big part of this sea change is how organisations implement GDPR training to the relevant departments and staff. It is important for the members of the organisations at all levels to be aware of the laws in place, how their roles will evolve as the rules change, and how they can stay relevant in this new business environment.
Who Should Undertake a Training in GDPR?
Any and every business that deals with the personal data of the EU residents should understand the GDPR inside out. This applies to organisations headquartered both outside and inside of the EU.
The people responsible for implementing the GDPR-related changes should understand the purpose of the regulation. However, it is not just the IT department or the top management that is directly dealing with the data that should be aware of the regulations and all its details. All employees of the organisation that have anything to do with the storage and processing of data in any form should undertake GDPR training.
GDPR training is important so that they do not make one silly mistake that snowballs into a fine worth millions of Euros.
Employees should have complete clarity over what information falls under the GDPR’s purview, should have complete knowledge about the obligations of the data controller and know how to implement the processes in compliance with the GDPR requirements, have full understanding of the rights of the data subjects under the regulation, and so on. All of this and more can only be imparted to employees through proper GDPR training.
Why is There a Need for GDPR Training?
It is clearly stated in the GDPR document that organisations should take all the ‘technical and organisational’ measures to ensure compliance. GDPR training falls well under that category. Employees absolutely have to understand the monetary costs as well as the reputational loss that the organisations may have to bear as a consequence of their actions. Apart from this, there are multiple reasons for organisations to seriously undertake GDPR training efforts.
Of Course, the Fines!
The first and foremost reason for most organisations to implement training should be the hefty fines and stringent sanctions that can come to haunt them if they are found infringing on any regulations under the GDPR.
Depending on the gravity of the infringement, an organisation can be charged a fine of €20 million or 4% of the global turnover or €40 million or 2% of the global turnover. These are not small numbers. In fact, a fine like this may mean the end of a medium-sized business. This alone makes GDPR training more than worth it.
Apart from this, a breach of the law can also attract several sanctions from the supervisory authority. Remember that an organisation can be slapped with both a fine and a sanction. Now, sanctions under GDPR can be mild to severe. Organisations may be reprimanded for their tardiness, which then goes on their record; they can be temporarily banned from sending or receiving data from foreign countries; they can even be punished by rescinding their permission to store and/or process data.
Whatever the case is, GDPR training will minimize the probability of an organisation finding itself on the receiving end of such fines and sanctions.
Only Compliant Processes Cannot Furnish Results
In order to comply with GDPR, putting the right processes in place is a 100% necessity for businesses in the EU. However, establishing the right processes in not enough. Organisations need to have staff that has undergone proper GDPR training to make those processes work. If the processes are completely secured and compliant with GDPR, but the staff using them has no idea how to deal with the personal data at hand, the end result can be disastrous. Not only that, organisations have to cover all bases to avoid the fines – processes and people. They cannot let something as basic as human error to cost them enormous fines and loss of reputation.
A Strong Case for Defence
If you are aware of how the regulatory authorities are going to levy fines on flouting GDPR laws, then you must know that they take action based on the typical nature of the cases. They analyse the situation to understand what was the level of preparedness? They pay a lot of heed to the fact that the organisation has taken all the necessary measures to safeguard the data. They will then understand that the data breach under investigation happened despite the safeguards in place, which makes a strong case for the organisation. GDPR training will be a critical factor that can help organisations if they ever find themselves in that position. Trained staff prepped for a data breach is a brownie point in the favour of the organisation, for sure.
Stay Ahead of the Breaches
While external audits and software solutions can help your organisation ensure that you stay GDPR compliant, there is really no replacement for GDPR training of the staff. If the staff is not trained to be compliant with the GDPR laws, then organisations will find themselves running into sanctions and fines, time and again.
Trained employees are not only more careful and mindful of the GDPR compliance requirements, they also serve as a failsafe mechanism for the organisation. They can identify areas where there is a security gap or a possibility of infringement and raise a flag. This gives the organisation time to deal with the situation before it escalates into something big. Your staff can only recognize such issues when they have a proper understanding of what the new regulation is all about. That is exactly what GDPR training offers them.
What Should a GDPR Training Include?
GDPR training for the employees should not only make them understand what GDPR is all about, but also tell them how to behave under a GDPR regime to ensure the security of data and privacy. They should have useful information that they can use whenever they are faced with certain situations in their regular workday.
Securing Personal Information
The employees should know that they will have to start inculcating secure habits in order to keep safe the data they deal with on a daily basis. They need to learn about simple workplace habits like creating safe passwords, locking computers when unattended, destroying confidential information when dumping it, being wary of opening emails from unknown sources, and more. The staff should understand that small steps like these go a long way.
Storing Relevant Data
The GDPR training will also put light on how the employees should deal with the personal data of the data subjects. They should only collect information that is relevant to the purpose of the business and delete all the information that is no longer needed. They should also be clear about the changed rules of consent. If the organisation is monitoring the activities of the employees, then they should be made aware of that fact, so that they can appreciate the significance of the situation and act responsibly.
Sharing Personal Data
Employees should be aware of the various pitfalls that they may have to face. They may be approached to divulge the data they deal with and could be even tricked into giving out that data. They should be ready in the face of such situations.
There is a need for the employees to carry out proper checks to give out any kind of personal information. They should also be aware of how much information they are allowed to share on telephones or in person, and when they need written permission from the data subjects to give out any additional personal information.
Dealing With Data Subjects
Employees must know that data subjects have a right under GDPR to ask about the status of their data. They can ask to modify, delete their data, or even withdraw their consent at any point in time. Employees should know that organisations have to respond to requests from data subjects in a stipulated frame of time, they can charge fees for information in certain cases, and more.
It is possible that the employee does not have the required clearance to give the information a data subject is asking for. In that case, employees should be aware of whom they can refer the case to.
GDPR training will broadly cover these points and more. The idea is to prepare the employee for the new regulatory environment and to make sure that there are no hiccups along the way. However, designing a handbook, creating videos, or hiring an external training agency is not enough to make sure that your employees are well aware of all the GDPR regulations relevant to them. It is important to ensure that the employees are actually absorbing the information meted out to them.
How Can Organisations Engage Their Employees?
GDPR training has become an important boardroom discussion. But, the GDPR training will only be effective if the employees understand the significance of the recent changes and are primed right for the GDPR training.
Trickle Down Training
Data and its security are on the priority list of top level management today. That is the kind of importance they hold. Like any other major organization-wide change, the intent of GDPR compliance has to come from the top brass. If the CEO or the CTO does not understand GDPR, or if they do not endorse GDPR training, then there is a good chance that the rest of the organisation will not take it seriously either.
Outline the Rules Clearly
The data handling habits of employees and the processes that have been put in place to protect that data should be clearly outlined by the organisation. The policy should be read by every employee and it should be duly signed by them. It will not only impress upon the employees the importance that the organisation is placing on data protection, but also serve as a reference document for the employees to refer to.
Inculcate a Habit
Laying down the rules to ensure GDPR compliance is one thing, but the training will be a success only when the importance of privacy is ingrained in the employees and into everyday processes. So, data protection should be included in the mission and vision statements of the company, in the job descriptions of these employees, as well as their performance reviews. Such grass root changes signal the employees about the seriousness the organisation attaches to GDPR, in particular, and data privacy and protection, in general.
By making every kind of data available to all employees, organisations do not only run the risk of leaking the data, but also undermine the significance of the data itself. When organisations make the access of employees limited to a certain degree, it is automatically implied that they cannot access certain data because it is above their pay grade. This kind of culture throughout the organisation will not only add to the focus on data privacy, but will also impress upon them the importance of GDPR training.
Make GDPR Training Interesting
Everything said and done, GDPR training is an additional effort on the employees. People are not particularly excited about studying new policy and regulation. So, the onus falls on the organisation to make the GDPR training sessions more palatable. They can do it by making them more relevant to the job roles of the employees, by adding animations, or by teaching it via activities. This will ensure that employees do not only fulfil a formality, but actually absorb what they are being taught.
GDPR training is an absolute for organisations. Unless the organisations create engaging and useful GDPR training programs, it cannot ensure that all its employees are behaving in the ‘right’ manner in the new regulatory environment. While it is easy to overlook GDPR training, the fines that result from it will definitely not be easy to bear. Without proper GDPR training, organisations are always at the risk of bleeding out some personal data of the data subjects. The amount of GDPR fines and the sheer focus on this new regulation should be enough for organisations to understand that lawmakers are taking GDPR very seriously and its violators will have to pay through their nose. Make sure that your organisation is not one of them. Give your staff the training they need to protect you from GDPR non-compliance.