Importance Of Workplace Privacy: Why Companies Should Get A Primer On Privacy Etiquette

privacy, work, blog

Workplace privacy should never be ignored. When it comes to detailing privacy in the workplace, the policies that a company has outlined need to be clearly communicated to employees. In fact, many companies across Canada can benefit from getting a primer on privacy etiquette.  

Privacy In The Workplace: Why It Means Everything For Your Business 

We all respect having privacy in our personal lives and the same goes for our professional lives too. When it comes to workplace privacy, all companies must have the appropriate policies in place to ensure that each employee feels safe and knows what to expect.  

People, no matter who they are, need privacy in order to properly function. In the workplace, if an employee experiences a lack of privacy at their workspace, this can hinder their sense of autonomy and cause their productivity to suffer. If this happens on an ongoing basis, it even has the potential to cause an employee’s morale to plummet.  

Those employees who don’t feel that their privacy is being respected in the workplace are not likely to stick around. In fact, you can guarantee that they will look for job opportunities elsewhere. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to put the necessary procedures and policies in place to make sure that none of your employees’ privacy is breached.   

What Is Workplace Privacy: A Definition

Workplace privacy refers to the extent to which employers are allowed to collect and monitor information on the activities, communication and private life of employees. It is there to protect the individual’s privacy rights in the workplace.  

All employees know that they will be giving up a degree of privacy when they begin working for a company. For example, within Canada, all employees are required to provide their SIN number to a company for employment purposes.  

The degree to which a company monitors the activities of its employees during work hours is contingent on an employer’s preferences and often enters a grey area.  

While most employees know that they can’t spend their workdays doing personal activities such as playing video games at their desk, there are other personal activities such as checking a personal email or speaking with a family member on their phone that often are allowed. However, this distinction needs to be made by the employer.  

If there are certain activities that employees should not be doing during work hours such as scrolling through their social media profiles, there must be legal documentation provided to the employee that outlines what is and isn’t considered as acceptable behaviour.  

The Importance of Developing A Workplace Privacy Policy  

Employers regularly face the challenge of balancing their need to know employee’s personal information with an employee’s right to privacy. In certain parts of Canada, there are no laws governing what constitutes privacy in the workplace or laws that protect an employee’s privacy rights. However, that doesn’t mean that a privacy policy should be ignored altogether.  

Depending on the industry you work in, you may be subject to follow federal laws such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). If your business falls under the requirements to follow this act, you must comply with principles such as consent, limiting collection, accuracy, safeguards and openness.  

Many employees wish to learn more about the procedures that have been put in place by an employer to protect their right to privacy in the workplace. When developing a workplace privacy policy, it is important that you adhere to the following guidelines: 

  • Establish what, why and how personal information will be collected 
  • Obtain the employee’s consent to collect personal information 
  • Only collect information if necessary. For example, if requesting medical information, only ask for the employee’s limitations and restrictions 
  • Information collected should only be used for the purposes in which the employee was informed 
  • Employees should have the ability to access personal information and correct if need be  

Having a defined workplace privacy policy that clearly outlines the above while also discussing topics such as Internet, email and phone use is important both from a transparency perspective but also so employees can be sure that their personal information is being used correctly.  

This helps to establish trust and open channel of communication between leaders and employees.  

Why Employee Training In Privacy Is Vital For Workplace Culture

Providing employee training to your company to refresh their privacy etiquette can offer multiple benefits. Not only does it teach them how they should be accurately collecting and managing the personal information of clients/customers but also how they should respect the privacy of their coworkers.  

We are all aware of the importance of training employees on the correct procedure of collecting data and putting measures in place to protect company data. Yet, it is also essential to train employees so that they are aware of the correct way to manage coworkers’ privacy and to recognize how their personal information is collected and used.  

Fostering a workplace culture of privacy shows employees that they are important to your business and breeds loyalty based on trust. It also ensures that coworkers feel safe and respected in the work environment.  

Taking A Privacy Refresher Course: Training Company Can Help! 


If you are looking to help your employees understand the procedures and legislation that guide the development of workplace privacy policy, the Training Company can help. As an outsourced training company, we give businesses access to a range of learning and development courses needed to upskill and elevate the knowledge of employees.  

Our Primer on Privacy course covers topics ranging from privacy definitions, privacy issues in Canada and around the world, the scope of PIPEDA and will outline the responsibilities of employees with respect to privacy.  

Interested in learning more about how we can become your employee training partner? Contact our team today and we’ll guide you through how to design a training program that is right for your business.  

Contact Training Company to find out more information.