Confidentiality and HR – these seem like conjoined twins! Make no mistake – confidentiality is at the core of HR. To many who don’t understand our profession, it would seem like we are in a murky profession. Let us leave the critics aside for the time being and assess why confidentiality is so important. Are we maintaining confidentiality because we are secretive?
The answer is yes and no. Confidentiality is not very different from secretiveness, but this quality is at the heart of HR, whether we like it or not. It is in the very nature of our profession to keep a few things confidential. Not for one moment or in one instance do we do this for personal gain or glory. Whatever confidentiality we have to maintain in situations is entirely for the organization’s good.
Situations are delicate
Let us understand why. To give an example, a new recruit has been offered an offer letter. The pay on which the new recruit has been placed is certainly a matter of great confidentiality. Come on, how on earth do we let everyone in the organization know what scale the new recruit has been placed in?
Likewise, we also have periodic pay raises. Undoubtedly, it is the senior management which decides on this. Our job is to only inform that employee about the percentage of the pay raise and perhaps explain the rationale for it. How is it possible to make this public? The employee may have reservations about the extent of the raise and may object, but let us deal with it on a one-on-one basis. Imagine the consequences of making such matters public. It is the same as washing dirty linen in public. The organization’s reputation is certain to suffer a huge smacking.
Keeping the organization’s good in mind
It is not only in these areas that we need to maintain confidentiality. We at HR have to perform many unpleasant tasks. Let us say we are asked to trail an employee for suspected dishonesty. There is a suspicion in the workplace that he could be stealing money from others. When these matters are brought up before us, isn’t it our duty to investigate and bring out the truth, so that the organization gets rid of such an employee, or the one making the false allegation, if it turns out to be one? Suppose we were to make such matters known before the investigation or while keeping a watch on the employee to confirm his misdeeds; which interest within the organization would we have served?
Learn to accept that it is part of our lives
Yes, maintaining confidentiality can sometimes be a pain, because we may have to hide some things from our closest colleagues. But then, that is the way it is. The sooner we come round to the realization that we have to maintain confidentiality for the larger good; the less unpleasant our task becomes.
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