New European Data Protection Law Among Most-Viewed Articles in 2017

Aliah D. Wright By Aliah D. Wright December 14, 2017

​Readers turned to SHRM Online this year for articles about how HR operates around the world—especially about how HR is preparing for a new data protection law in Europe.

Failure to comply with the law could result in fines and penalties. By May 25, 2018, companies that do business in or with European countries must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The law was passed to protect employee and consumer data from the increased threat of cyber theft that's occurring worldwide. The GDPR mandates how companies gather, store and use sensitive employee data.

The EU Parliament passed the regulations in April 2016 to replace the Data Protection Directive, which was enacted in 1995. The law's key objectives are to give people control of their personal data and to streamline current laws surrounding the legal use of this information.

Other articles that resonated with readers include those on Japan's quest to fight "death from overwork," why HR should empower and not just criticize employees, and why HR should use data and analytics to influence stakeholders. 

Death from 'Overwork'

So prevalent is death from overwork in Japan that the Japanese have a name for it—"karoshi." The adage was coined in the late 1970s, and it includes stroke, asthma, heart disease and suicide.

In 2015, work issues were a causal factor in more than 2,000 suicides in Japan, according to a white paper from Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

"An especially high-profile suicide that year of an employee at Dentsu, a Japanese ad agency in Tokyo, was ruled karoshi. Dentsu's president has since resigned, and the case was referred to the prosecutor's office. Since then, the government and private sector have launched new initiatives to combat excessive overtime work, a longtime problem in Japan." Some of those schemes encourage employers to allow their employees to leave work early so they'll have more time for travel and leisure activities. 

Don't Just Criticize Employees

As more organizations revamp employee performance evaluations, an HR executive is urging leaders not to criticize their employees' past efforts, but to instead focus on their capacity for future achievements.

At least 12 percent of Fortune 1000 companies have eliminated performance appraisals and performance rankings. That has created a "seismic shift" in the way work gets done, Greg Pryor told attendees at the HR Conference and Tradeshow 2017, sponsored by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) of British Columbia & Yukon.

Organizations are rethinking their approach to people practices and considering how technology can help, he said. Companies should get rid of performance evaluations, said Pryor, who is vice president of leadership and organizational effectiveness at Pleasanton, Calif.-based software vendor Workday. He said ratings and evaluations aren't driving performance one way or another. What managers should do, he said, is give their staffs opportunities to contribute to their organizations and to help them advance their career goals, grow their skills and strengthen their networks.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Understanding Workplace Cultures Globally]

How Data Shapes HR into an Influencer

The more well-versed HR professionals are at proving their points with data and analytics, the more influential they can become, said experts at the CPHR conference.

Jobs in HR are some of the most important roles in business, and HR professionals must move away from processes and policies to focus on molding company plans for efficiency and performance. Increase your influence by becoming more skilled at using data and analytics to assess return on investment, they suggested.

Rusty Lindquist, vice president of thought leadership and product marketing at software management company BambooHR, said the HR industry is "mission-critical" because employee management is incredibly important—especially to the bottom line. 

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