Managing employee communication and creating a BYOD policy

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Many companies rely on their HR department to make sure employees and the company are on the same page and that everyone shares the same values, mission, and goals. 

Staying connected and engaged is easy to do when everyone works behind a desk, connected by company email, and sharing company news around the water cooler.

For non-desk, remote, and highly mobile workers all of whom probably don’t have access to corporate email, this engagement and connection is missing. 

For HR managers and companies trying to engage with these employees, their options have included – message boards, phone calls, word-of-mouth passed from one person to another, and in some cases relying on employees to message one-another with their personal mobile devices on unsecure and non-compliant social messaging apps. 

Why is the BYOD policy a good option ?

A BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy can be a good option for workers and businesses alike because it allows employees to use a device they are already familiar with. 

A BYOD policy provides flexibility to workers whose ability to perform a task or receive sensitive information is often impacted by factors outside of their control. For employers, allowing the use of a personal device increases employee productivity, reduces equipment costs, and eliminates the high cost of setting everyone up with a company email account.

What are some potential pitfalls of a BYOD policy? 

Companies should know that whenever their employee access their mobile devices for work related activities, the organization faces potential legal responsibilities and liabilities that it needs to be prepared for.

Specific issues might include non-secure messaging of sensitive and personal information, lack of control over where and when information is shared, and labor laws regulating contact with employees outside of work hours. 

Additionally, many platforms that are used under a BYOD policy can create lots of work for HR or IT teams who need to manage the end users in order to keep the platform up to date and relevant. 

What to consider when developing your BYOD policy for your non-desk workforce ?

1.     FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) Compliance

The FLSA requires companies to pay non-exempt workers overtime pay for any time beyond 40 hours that they spend on work-related tasks. For example, an employee who is expected to check email after work hours may be due overtime pay. 

The law requires companies to keep accurate records for all non-exempt hours worked, whether on premises or at home, and pay employees accordingly. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties.

2. Liability for employee actions while using their mobile devices

When workers use their mobile device while driving for work-related business purposes, whether it be talking or texting, juries have found companies responsible for damages caused by this distraction. 

Employers must take proactive steps to restrict such behavior and implement risk management programs to enforce appropriate use of mobile device policies.

Additionally, companies can find themselves liable for cyberbullying, sexual harassment, and social media posts where employees are using their own device for work. A plaintiff only needs to demonstrate that the equipment was used at some point to perform work for a company to potentially be liable.

3.     Data breach notifications for personal devices

If an employer allows employees to download personally identifiable information to their own devices, the company becomes liable for how that information is handled. 

Companies involved in finance, insurance, or healthcare have a regulatory duty, under federal and state privacy laws like HIPAA, to ensure strict security measures for their corporate data. 

Surveys show that most users don’t even deploy minimal security procedures and many respondents don’t even use a password on their personal smartphones. This on the other hand can lead to lost or stolen devices. 

Best practice dictates that all data be maintained in a secure cloud-based portal (a remote access software) where employees can access encrypted information.

4.     Legal discovery

If your employee or company should become involved in litigation, the information held on personal devices may be subject to discovery. If it is the employee who is involved in legal action, company data residing on their device may be vulnerable to publication. 

If it is the company that becomes a participant in some legal action, the personal data of employees may be inadvertently exposed, potentially violating an individual’s privacy rights.

5.     Privacy issues

The privacy aspect of employee-owned devices is an evolving subject area. For example, if an employee quits or is let go, to whom does the information on their personal devices belong? Who is responsible for when and if that personal information may be deleted?

With every state having their own unique labor laws, managing compliance and communications with non-desk workers spread out over multiple locations adds complexity to connection with these essential workers.

Red e App solves all of these issues and more 

By offering our customers an intuitive, secure, and compliant platform along with proprietary technology – called Shelbe AI, that automatically manages and adjusts communication based on any number of rules such as job title or location, we can save hundreds of hours of manual work. 

Shelbe AI guarantees that the right message gets to the right person at the right time in a secure, compliant, and efficient manner. 

Shelbe AI allows a company to surgically manage company information that flows to and through an employee’s device, all while monitoring the communication shared within the Red e App platform, including any inappropriate content so that organizations can stay ahead of the legal pitfalls that can come from BYOD policies.

Jim White
Communications Director
Red e App

About the author:Before joining Red e App as Communications Director, Jim acted as Chief Creative Officer for some of the country’s largest brand agencies. As a creative agency owner and Vice-Chairman, Jim has led the marketing efforts for many of the world’s most well-known brands, including Budweiser, British Airways, Philip Morris, Hanes, Mars, Miller, JOOP!, PepsiCo, Siemens, and many more. His campaigns for Miller, Shoney’s, Hanes, and Wachovia set historical marks for the highest scores achieved to date.

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