Record Retention: Big Tips for Small Businesses
In part three of our Q & A with records pro Helen Streck of Kaizen InfoSource, we learn why itâ€™s important for even small-sized businesses to stay on top of record retention schedules.Helen goes on to say that with small organizations, itâ€™s a little harder because they donâ€™t (necessarily) have a records or information manager who can be dedicated to the work. It may be an office manager who is responsible for 3 to 4 other things, someone in IT, or the Finance Director. Each organization will differ in who is managing it. Chin up, even the little guy can and should have a record retention schedule. Here, Helen gives a few important pointers, pulled from Part 3 of our exclusive interview.
Q. Can smaller organizations keep a handle on record retention schedules as easily as larger organizations?A. If your retention policy is written well and your program is put together well, it becomes something that can be managed internally. So, every organization should have a records program of some level of service (that can be followed by your employees no matter the size of your company). If you make the retention public, keep it on the intranet, this way every employee knows how long to keep files.
Q. Are there consequences for keeping documents too long or not long enough?A. If litigation happens youâ€™ll have to produce everything you have if you donâ€™t properly destroy your documents according to a retention schedule. There are some situations where an individual can be sued as well as the company. I tell the executives that you have a vested interest in only retaining what you need to retain to do your business and be in compliance.
pro tipWork with outside experts like Corodata to help you store and destroy your documents according to your retention schedule. Talk to a Corodata expert Â»
Q. Iâve read stories of finding employee records in the trash (that were not properly destroyed), and obviously thatâ€™s a worse-case scenario. Can you talk more about record retention compliance in Human Resources departments?Employee records have a lot of confidential information. The retention varies a lot from private to public agencies. HR retains these files for a very long time. It is not the agencyâ€™s job to manage the files for the individual. Instead, at an exit interview, give them a copy of the personnel file. Keep it as long as you are required to keep it by law, and then just give it to them. There are no more changes to this file, their employment is done.
Q . Any advice about record retention schedules youâ€™d like to add?A. Get started. Doing nothing costs you money, you just donâ€™t know it. Get started because it can be done. Get started, but do it in small incremental steps. And youâ€™re going to find yourself in a better place, a more compliant place.
Listen to part 1 of the full exclusive interview with Helen Streck
In episode 1 of the File Tips by Corodata podcast, Helen goes deep into explaining how a retention schedule can protect your company if legal action is taken; more details on managing files during legal action, and the difference between a back-up and a record.