What is a records retention policy?
Basically, it is a precise and meaningful system for classifying records and implementing a scheme to manage records over time. Creating a retention of records system requires a direct investment of time, energy and expertise to design a carefully thought out classification system that identifies different record types.
It also requires creating document flow systems that meet both business objectives and compliance guidelines.
This article is in no way legal advice, and applicable laws must be researched in your area. However, we can provide some ideas for creating a records retention policy based on research and opinions of professionals.
The Role of ‘Records Manager’ in Businesses
A records manager performs an essential business task that requires solid analytical skills.
Perhaps it is a job position that is undervalued considering the many benefits to be gained and pitfalls to be avoided with a competent records manager directing the flow of records.
Many companies simply relegate the important task of records management to off site storage companies, janitors, or an employee who is not specifically trained in this area.
Some professionals even wonder if records management laws have become so disorganized that no one even really understands it — even those who are in charge of creating new regulations.
Here are a few tips and considerations to using a records manager to increase the profits and efficiency of any business.
4 Ideas For Records Management Systems
1. Create An Online Training System For Employees
For big companies and government departments, this can be a cost effective way to train employees.
Videos can be added to a password protected training area. There can be electronic test questions and employees can study and test until they pass.
The training can be updated yearly or even more frequently to reflect changes in laws or company policies. Staff can be required to retrain annually.
2. Schedule Email Reminders Periodically
Email technology can be leveraged to remind employees about records management schedules. These email systems can either schedule reminders in advance, or broadcast emails can be sent out at any time.
3. Penalize Workers For Mishandling Of Records or Misfiling.
Obviously there are very few people who want to take on the role of records management police. However, sometimes the only way to motivated employees to comply with proper records management practices is with penalties.
These can be decided based on the type of company, the work atmosphere, and the legal climate.
4. Do Test Drills
Test the system by creating scenarios where records need to be retrieved. Put the system through the paces and make sure it is workable. Make a game out of it.
Achieving Records Retention Policy Goals
On the surface, these aren’t fun things to do, but maybe they can be.
Records management is a serious challenge and a talented and educated records manager should find a way to make the system work in a way that is encouraging to employees.
You can’t just archive all records forever, because there are laws about document destruction. Deleting or shredding everything is also not the solution because of retention laws.
There are no easy answers to legal requirements, there is only careful research and ‘acceptable risk’.
In my opinion, the job of a records retention policy is to balance legal considerations with the needs of efficient business operations, and to fall within the guidelines of acceptable risk as determined by risk management.
Creating a records retention system is not an easy task and requires ongoing research and continuous improvements but at least there are ways to measure your success.
You’ll know you’ve succeeded, or at least are on the right track, when your staff start to ask how they ever got anything done with the old system. If you want to have a look at the larger picture of what records management is read the article here.
Don’t dwell on the details- let our experts help!
Let our professionals help you find the right document storage or management solution for your business. To get free quotes from a local provider give us a call at (800) 503-0576. Within minutes, you will be contacted with several secure records management companies in your area.