Collection and storage of HR data – a blockchain perspective


Tech geeks have always been curious about revolutionizing the data storage mechanism. It is very important for us to understand the need for a data structure, so let us hop inside a spacecraft.

For instance, there were quite limited and ‘flat’ data structures before mankind sent its first flight outside the Earth’s atmosphere. However, since everyone knew that the data that was supposed to be generated as a result of the mission would be enormous, they were forced to make significant changes to the already existing data structures. Databases were remodeled!

The above-mentioned example is just for your understanding as to how crucial robust data structures are. However, with the passage of time and growing partnership between companies, it was essential to crafting a mechanism where huge chunks of ‘chained’ data could be stored transparently and permanently. Yes, you got me right! The data stored in a blockchain data structure can never be eliminated from the face of the internet and therefore, it leads to an enhanced level of trust, transparency, and audit.

The problems with data storage: HR perspective
With organizations expanding at an incredible rate, it is quite essential that the management keeps a record of every present and past employee. It is not only good for maintaining an organized record, but data fetching becomes quite efficient in an array of scenarios.

Here comes the sheer advantage of decentralization. Basically, decentralization represents the ultimate goal of blockchain technology. See, if you plan to store all of your employees’ data in a centralized environment, a single breach could compromise your entire network, and thus the integrity of data as well. Contrary to this, if you utilize the scalable power of blockchain and store all of your data in a decentralized fashion, you would minimize the likelihood of any cybersecurity event, plus the data will be available publicly and transparently, without authorizing anyone to omit or alter anything at any given instance.

Basically, it maintains your data across an array of nodes (which happen to be different devices connected to the network) and a copy of your ledger is maintained at each node. It must be noted that every copy is identical, which is why the data structure is probably the securest one until now.
See, if someone would want to violate your data integrity, he would have to disrupt the copy of ledger you have maintained centrally. However, since blockchain allows you to maintain multiple copies all over the World, on millions of devices, it is practically impossible to alter the data in one copy and leave the rest unchanged.

Irrelevant HR data
It is quite important to store employee data in a robust storage system. However, when we talk about data structures like blockchain, where nothing can be altered or omitted, you have to do proper research as to what must be stored on blockchain and what could be kept on a temporary storage.

For instance, let’s say that you wish to keep all of your employee data on blockchain structure. Now what this ‘data’ must contain is certainly a critical decision. If you share their personal information, their privacy will be compromised since everything is publicly available and if you upload unwanted information, such as their hobbies, it would simply choke the network.

The later mentioned is what we refer to as irrelevant HR data. If you are still confused as to why it is termed as such, supposed you were hired by ABC Corporation in 2010 and at that time you were fond of playing table tennis and reading books. Now 8 years down the road, assume that your hobbies have switched and you prefer playing basketball, instead of table tennis.

Here comes the drawback of uploading irrelevant HR data. The network became dense, employee’s hobby changed and even though the previous data does not hold any significance now, it cannot be deleted. Moreover, it is not even practically related to their employment. I mean what matters more is their qualification and experience.
Wait, I am not asking you to skip collecting this data. Of course, this may be required at some point, but it has no direct concern and therefore, you should preferably save it on a local cloud storage.

The legal aspect
Employee data is something that the organizations must take very seriously. There is an array of companies that start taking employee credentials on an extensive scale and in any unforeseen incident, it might be used against them!
The data you collect from your employees and store in your ‘secure’ directories can be used against you. For instance, ABC Corporation requires its employees to provide nationality, sex, religion, age and race particulars. 1 year down the road, the manager of John (an employee) decides to fire him. Now since ABC Corporation has collected a great deal of personal data, the fired employee could use that in a court to prove his stance that he was supposedly fired because of discrimination.

However, if you happen to be an intelligent and careful organization, you won’t be concerned with the private life and personal data of your employees. Therefore, even if you have to fire someone, it will be purely on the basis of performance. Hence, the liability on your end decreases to a significant extent and keeps you safe from any lawsuit.

Non-compliance with GDPR
Of course employees want the World to see their profile, but certainly nor their personal data. That is exactly what the GDPR tries to reinforce and in order to exhibit compliance, every organization is bound to prove that it collects information with the consent of its employees.
Even though some of the seemingly private data needs to be recorded by the organizations, it is highly recommended to truncate data including hobbies and interests from your storage systems, blockchain in particular!

Conclusion
See, as an employer, it is your right and even a requirement (to a certain extent) to store the data of your employees. If you happen to be an established organization, then you might even have to save data of an employee who resigned 5 years ago. However, there are certain laws and ethical values that must be followed.
Particularly with the boom in blockchain technology, where everything stays forever, you should devise a well-researched policy as to what you decide to put in a decentralized network.

It is quite understandable that at times, your policies are unable to dictate as to whether a specific information should be stored publicly or not. Well, in that case, it is highly recommended that you question whether this particular information is explicitly related to someone’s employment or not. If yes, the law gives you a nod!
However, if you plan to put irrelevant data on blockchain (which is not recommended), you are strongly advised to state that explicitly in front of your employees to avoid being bombarded by the GDPR.