Business espionage has become more common in recent times due to the growth of outsourcing. Outsourcing work reduces the amount of direct contact between workers and employers, yet increases the potential for conflict and theft. An increase in business Espionage is therefore of major concern. There are two ways in which employees interact with each other in today’s business environment. Firstly, there is face to face communication and this occurs mostly through telephones and personal computers. Secondly, there is a greater degree of physical contact via computers and desks that can be monitored by a few individuals.
With all of these increased levels of communication, employees are able to work much more efficiently and longer hours. However, the increased competitiveness of businesses also means that there is greater opportunity for employees to steal intellectual property and create viruses or counterfeit documentation. This is often referred to as ‘cyber-crime’ and it can cause real damage to a business. Companies must take steps to protect their intellectual property from employees who may be tempted to use this information to gain an unfair advantage.
The first step in stopping this kind of behaviour is to make all employees aware of their responsibilities. The HR department should ensure that all employees have read the terms and conditions of their employment agreement and are aware of their legal rights and responsibilities. It is important for companies to implement strict disciplinary measures and penalties for employees found to be involved in this kind of behavior. There can be a significant financial impact on a company if a number of high profile employees begin to steal secrets and start to leak them to outsiders.
Another effective way in which to warn employees against stealing is to have a full range of communication devices in place. Employees should be given a password and access code, which they should never give out to anyone else. It is also necessary for employees to understand that they are expected to report anything that they observe to their supervisors. All employees should receive proper training on how to properly handle confidential information and reports of suspicious behaviour.
Communication is the key to preventing Espionage in any organisation. Effective communication is needed between management and employees. Providing regular and adequate warnings can go a long way towards maintaining good working relationships and trust between staff and management. This warning can take the form of a memo to the entire workforce, a meeting with senior management or an official communication sent through the company’s intranet system.
Any action that is taken to try and halt the leaking of secrets will have a negative impact on the business. The longer Espionage goes on the more the company will pay for it in terms of lost revenue. Businesses must therefore take every measure possible to reduce the risk of any employee from divulging information about the business. They should inform their staff members about the need to have a good and open communication. All employees should also be made aware of their legal rights and where and how to go about exercising them. A warning about the consequences of improper communication can go a long way towards discouraging employees from taking part in Espionage activities.