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General Data Protection Regulation

Here you can find the official content of the Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (General Data Protection Regulation) in the current version. All Articles of the GDPR are linked with suitable recitals.

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Training & awareness: Promoting privacy within the organization

GDPR training & awareness Promoting Privacy withing organization

According to the studyPsychology of  Human Error,”  88% of data breach incidents are caused by employees’ mistakes, and around 43% of people admitted they made mistakes at work that could have compromised the organization’s cybersecurity.

Although employees can be seen as the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain, they are also the greatest asset the organization can have. If trained properly, these types of incidents can go significantly down.

However, preventing personal data security incidents is not the only reason to invest in proper staff training.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements are interlocked with different operations within every organization and comprise privacy and security issues.

All employees who engage in data processing activities, handle personal data, or interact with individuals should receive clear guidance on the organization’s GDPR requirements, responsibilities, and obligations.

Where to start with the GDPR training?

Employees should be familiar with the purpose and objectives of your privacy program and receive training to effectively respond in situations where compliance with the GDPR and your privacy policies is necessary.

Every industry and organization has its own specifics, and no single program or training suits every business.

However, if you are looking for advice and a place to start, we have identified steps to help you design and implement successful privacy training.

1. Identify key departments and employees

Identify key departments or employees handling personal data, sharing data, or participating in data processing activities.

Ensure your GDPR training is thorough by incorporating real-life scenarios relevant to their daily tasks. Tailor the training content based on these practical situations for maximum effectiveness.

For example, data subject access requests can be made verbally or in writing, through any channel, including social media, and to any person inside your organization.

The request does not have to mention the GDPR or specific right as long as it is clear what data subject is requesting.

All requests sent to your organization by any employee are considered valid, so there is a high possibility that marketing will have to recognize the request and take the next steps.

Make sure you include similar scenarios in your training so that every employee can identify the situation and know how to respond.

2. Know your industry

GDPR provides a margin of maneuver for the Member States to specify their rules and incorporate national and sector-specific requirements.

Define if specific industry requirements or national laws might apply to your organization and draw special attention to those areas.

3. Don’t forget the basics

Explain the importance of data privacy and security and inform employees of possible risks.

Try to avoid legal jargon if it is not necessary or to make training easily understandable.

Equip your staff with a basic understanding of key concepts in a simplified way that will include:

[RELATED TOPIC: How To Improve Password Security In The Workplace]

4. Adopt a practical approach

It is extremely important to go through different scenarios during your privacy training and give employees clear examples and instructions on handling different situations.

Many employees may not readily identify situations where they are processing personal data when the explanation is provided in a general context.

For example, if you explain to your sales department that they cannot process personal data without a proper legal basis, they will probably agree with you.

At the same time, they will not connect this to sending cold emails or to keeping email addresses containing full names.

5. Use what is already available

There are a lot of available materials that you can utilize to create innovative privacy training and promote your messages, not only during the training but throughout the year.

There is no reason to start from scratch. Some data protection authorities have ready-to-print materials, including promotional posters, printable PDFs, and presentation templates.

Tailor your GDPR training according to organizational needs and use resources to help employees understand their GDPR obligations.

6. Consider work dynamics in your organization

Since the start of the pandemic, a number of organizations have transitioned to some hybrid model of remote work, whether it is a split-week, at-will, week-by-week, or any other type.

Adjust training to work-from-home situations and use multiple channels, like online meeting platforms, to meet employees halfway.

You can also record your training and send the recording to everyone who attended.

7. Divide and conquer

If you are working within a larger organization, it is advisable to segment employees into groups and adjust the training accordingly.

One of the easiest ways to segment your employees into groups is by their workplace or departments.

Since they will more likely find themselves in similar situations, you can adjust examples, and they can relate to your messages quickly.

8. Adjust and Repeat

Your work on privacy awareness is never done, just like your organization’s compliance journey is never done.

Use follow-up surveys so your co-workers can leave feedback and ask questions they did not get to ask.

Listen to your coworkers and use newly gathered information to adjust your training in the future.

Create training plans and regularly review your program to ensure it remains current.

The role of the DPO in training: inform, educate, and influence

One of the Data Protection Officer’s key responsibilities is raising awareness of potential data protection risks and conducting staff training.

However, not all organizations are required to appoint a DPO. If your organization does not have this role filled out, it is possible to outsource staff training.

Get informed about tailor-made, in-house workshops provided by highly specialized experts.

They can tailor training according to your needs. However, assigning one employee to oversee the training is still advisable.

Keep the records of who attended and when and ensure the training is conducted periodically or when needed.

If employees circulate through your organization frequently, consider creating a short and quick introductory GDPR training accompanied by a recording of one of your previous training.

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