If you follow the latest news, you no doubt know there’s a lot of allegations about spying. And, you’ve definitely heard the word “collusion” all-too-many times. It’s post-election politicking at its worst (or best, depending on your perspective). Anonymous sources are spilling the proverbial beans day in and day out. Regardless of your take, all of this does teach a solid business lesson, you just have to look past the ugliness. That lesson is how to protect company secrets, particularly when employees depart.

How to Protect Company Secrets after Employees Leave

One of the best measures is to get to know all your team members so you can keep them happy. You might learn it’s time to transform your company’s culture or take other steps to improve the environment. The more involved you are with your employees, the better able you are to deal with problems before they arise or before they become overwhelming. This way, if you have a new hire who is willing to share information about a previous employer, you’ll know that’s a possibility when he or she leaves.

Ever wonder why generic forms of cola never seem to taste quite like the taste made famous by Coca-Cola brand? Or why nothing quite measures up to the “special sauce” in a McDonald’s Big Mac? It’s not for lack of effort by way of competitors, but instead, a careful product of some of the best-kept industry secrets. While many industries basically work to reproduce the same type of product in different forms, what helps a company distinguish itself from its competitors, gain notoriety, and keep a competitive edge is the little known inner workings that make their products or services stand out from the pack. —Business.com

It’s also a great idea to get to know your team members because then you can learn about them as individuals. This is a wonderful way to know what rewards are most appreciated. And, content employees are typically more loyal. On the other hand, employees who are kept at arm’s length tend to be more disgruntled. According to a Ponemon Institute study, 61 percent of unhappy team members steal company information. But there are other steps you can take to protect company secrets, even after employees leave your organization:

  • Set expectations. “It’s better to be safe than sorry,” the old adage warns. And, this is true when it comes to keeping company secrets. You have to ask yourself about what’s most valuable to your business and that’s what needs top priority protection. This starts by setting expectations and keeping employees informed about company confidentiality policies. If necessary, have employees sign non-disclosures so they are less tempted to share secrets.
  • Utilize technology. In today’s modern technological environment, there are plenty of tools at your disposal. Use them to your advantage so there’s less access or blocked access where it’s appropriate. For instance, if you are developing a new tool, salespeople should not have access to the plans but designers should. Put technology to work where needed and that will help to minimize potential risk.
  • Monitor employees. You can also use technology beyond controlling access. Monitoring employees can be a treasure trove and provide much appreciated relief. For example, if a team member is about to leave and is actively interviewing with other companies, monitoring their digital activity might be worthwhile.
  • Cut off access quickly. Although it’s not pleasant to think about, when an employee departs, unless it’s on truly amicable terms, there’s a risk something that could go with them, carried right out the door. So, be sure to terminate access right away to remain safe.

How do you keep trade secrets? What steps do you take to protect company secrets? Please share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment!

Interested in learning more about business? Then just visit Waters Business Consulting Group.