The Problem With Regulatory Compliance And The Hourly Workforce

Regulatory compliance is an absolute imperative for companies. But how companies communicate with their hourly workers may be unnecessarily exposing them to great risk and even violating regulations.

Photo: Jonathan Erwin, CEO and Founder of Red e App; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Jonathan Erwin, CEO and Founder of Red e App; Source: Courtesy Photo

Regulatory compliance is an absolute imperative for companies. But how companies communicate with their hourly workers may be unnecessarily exposing them to great risk and even violating regulations.

According to the Profile of the Hourly Worker, research conducted by Edison Research on behalf of Red e App, hourly workers across a variety of industries reported methods by which their company communicates with them.

Some of the methods reported by 1,099 hourly workers surveyed included personal email, text message, and even via a Facebook group. 

Of the hourly workers studied, approximately half are not given company email accounts.

The study also suggests that the hourly worker is not just digitally savvy, but well connected with mobile devices and active in using them to communicate. So, leveraging personal email, text messages or Facebook groups may seem like a logical solution for communication.

But if your business operates in an industry that is subject to regulatory compliance—such as financial services, banking, healthcare, insurance, government, telecommunications, manufacturing and more—these communication methods present huge gaps in compliance.


Personal Email

Not providing a company email account to an hourly worker yet sending them work-related emails to a personal account exposes potentially sensitive or private messages, and those containing company intellectual property to unsecure email systems. Do you really want company policies, salary information or communications on internal, sensitive matters sitting on the servers at Yahoo! or Google?

While company email accounts may not be the solution—61 percent of hourly workers are not office workers or tied to a desk each day—communicating via personal email accounts is certainly not.


Text Messaging

Studies confirm the hourly worker is connected (84 percent carry a smartphone) and actively texts (77 percent say they text at least several times per week; 50 percent do it several times per day), but sending sensitive information via text is as secure as sending it via personal email.

Those text messages live on someone else’s server which may or may not be secure, encrypted or subject to fraud, hacking and more. 

Not to mention text messages are harder than other methods of communication to accurately document for companies which must maintain documentation of employee communication.


Facebook Groups

This was perhaps the most interesting answer provided when asked about methods of company communication—16 percent of hourly workers said they typically receive new policy and procedure information this way.

Do you honestly think “safe, secure, protected, private and compliant” when you think of Facebook? What happens if Facebook decides to shut down your group? How are you documenting this communication? What happens if a group administrator accidentally invites a non-employee? What happens if the group isn’t set up right and employees can invite non-employees?

Communicating private, company information via a Facebook Group is akin to putting it in an ad in the classified section of the newspaper. Not everyone will see it, but a lot of people can if they wanted to.


Are You Putting Company Data At Risk?

Loss, misuse, modification, or unauthorized access to sensitive company information can adversely affect the privacy or welfare of your employees and the trade secrets of your business.

To mitigate the risk associated with communicating with an hourly workforce, companies must find methods that offer appropriate security, privacy and documentation. Whether it’s protecting company information from employees who quit or are fired, protecting client or patient information or tracking communication to ensure consistent and accurate reporting, the method companies use to engage hourly workers should not be a compliance liability.

Fortunately, hourly workers are, in fact, connected and digitally savvy. While company emails aren’t ideal because most hourly workers are not tied to a desk or computer all day, the ubiquitous nature of the mobile device gives companies a powerful opportunity to communicate, engage and mitigate risk.

Now all you need is a private, secure, compliant mobile application to solve and prevent these issues.


Editor’s Note: Profile of the Hourly Worker’s first report: Demographics, Devices and Disconnection, released November 2015, is an independent survey conducted by Edison Research on behalf of Red e App to discover insights and details about the United States hourly workforce. Request a copy of the full report here.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Jonathan Erwin has 20+ years in sales marketing and executive roles in early stage and startup technology companies before the valley had garages. He started Redeapp in 2011, and has built the company from the ground up to a national contender in the internal communications industry. Redeapp’s single focus has been on building a robust communication and file sharing platform that is beneficial for enterprise business departments such as Operations, HR, Risk Management, and Communication teams who need a unified communication channel for every single employee. Connect with @redeapp on Twitter.


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