Workplace Education on Data Privacy Has Never Been More Important: How Can Businesses Ensure That It’s Effective?

Initiatives That Teach Employees About the Potential for Lasting Damage in Digital Communications, Their Duty to Safeguard Clients’ and Customers’ Data, and That Use Interactive Learning Have Good Track Records, According to LRN Corporation

NEW YORK , Sept. 13, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Given the public backlash against major tech firms for their handling of user data, and the introduction of data privacy legislation like GDPR, businesses are being held increasingly accountable for their data privacy practices. This has made workplace education on data privacy a priority for many business leaders. Underscoring the thirst for data privacy education: completion of data privacy courses at ethics and compliance firm LRN Corporation jumped 262% between the first and second quarters of 2018.

But simply providing a few courses on data protection and privacy isn’t enough. “Companies with programs that hammer home organizations’ and employees’ obligations to safeguard the data of clients and customers, educate employees on the permanence of their digital correspondences, and use interactive learning stand the best chance of affirming ethical and effective behaviors,” says Jennifer Farthing, who leads workplace learning and course creation at LRN.       

Specifically, Farthing says companies should work to…

Safeguard the information they are trusted with and teach employees about how lasting and potentially damaging digital communications are. Employees often don’t realize how long digital correspondences last and how easily they can be exposed to the public. Often, email, social media and instant messaging apps are used in casual contexts, so employees may become less careful about the types of information they share—not recognizing that their communications may remain on the record indefinitely.

Workplace education on data privacy needs to be crystal-clear about the types of information that are acceptable to share via email, over social media, via marketing materials, and through HR, and which types of information would be potentially damaging to the company, Farthing says. Equally important, personal information about customers, employees, and trading partners must be kept secure.     

Use interactive digital learning to help increase retention of data privacy knowledge and make complex material more accessible. The data protection and privacy subject is rife with nuance and technical complexity, which can be overwhelming and makes retention difficult. Data privacy needs must be kept current and accurate to be effective. By creating and updating interactive content, education programs can help employees engage with the subject matter more directly and authentically, and absorb the ideas more readily.

LRN’s courses frequently employ guided questioning, drag and drop activities, infographics, and short quizzes to ensure that employees are internalizing the content presented. By creating an environment where the learner must do something with the information—assess, evaluate, and apply knowledge—the courses reinforce the material so it may be recalled in real-world situations.

Says Farthing, “It’s important for workplace education about data privacy to not only reinforce the legal requirements companies and employees need to meet, but also the moral ones, and to communicate them in an effective way. Businesses hold a lot of power through their access to clients’ and customers’ personal data, and it’s increasingly important that they navigate this power responsibly.”

LRN’s corporate ethics and compliance platform includes curricula, video vignettes, live workshops, blended learning, and online courses on ethics, data protection and privacy, information security, harassment, discrimination, bullying, and other dimensions of conduct and behavior inside an organization. 

Click here to learn more about LRN’s data protection and privacy and information security education offerings.


Since 1994, LRN has helped over 20 million people at more than 700 companies, worldwide, simultaneously navigate complex legal and regulatory environments and foster ethical cultures. LRN's combination of practical tools, education and strategic advice helps companies translate their values into concrete corporate practices and leadership behaviors that create sustainable competitive advantage. In partnership with LRN, companies need not choose between living principles and maximizing profits, or between enhancing reputation and growing revenue: all are a product of principled performance. As a global company, LRN works with organizations in more than 100 countries, and has offices in major cities around the world including New York, London, and Mumbai.

Devin Tilitz
Sommerfield Communications
(212) 255-8386