Regardless of the type or size of your business, employee records retention is often a frustrating component. During a year, the average company receives, generates, and accumulates large amounts of documents. This includes reference checks, resumes, applications for employment, payroll records, and more.
When your file cabinets are overflowing, it may seem like the best solution is to purge these documents. However, this can lead to you breaking several local, state, and federal laws and requirements. Employee recordkeeping requirements make it necessary to retain records for a particular period. This time extends beyond an employee’s termination.
Getting to know some do’s and don’ts of employee records retention can help ensure you remain compliant with state and federal law and avoid civil monetary penalties.
Don’t Hoard Documents – Do Identify the Vital Records
Some businesses hold on to all the information they receive. This can lead to difficulties when it is time to dig the information back up. A better option is to securely destroy any unnecessary documents. A great way to know when to get rid of documents is to utilize an effective document management system. Move all nonessential information off the “active” list. Also, flag your “mission-critical” data and ensure it gets top indexing, access, and storage.
Don’t Use Valuable Office Space for Record Storage – Do Consider Outsourced Storage
Do you have a massive building with lots of extra space? If not, storing records off-site is a better option. Even better is using an electronic system. This allows you to eliminate the paper while keeping the information. These systems are easier to manage. They are also often employee self-service equipped. This means employees can upload their sensitive information. As a result, the HR department’s work is minimized. All your company’s data and information are streamlined. It is also easier to access when needed.
Do Destroy Records – Don’t Put them in Cold Storage
At some point, all records are ready to be deleted. However, only do this after you have created a sensible retention schedule. Make sure this conforms to any regulatory and auditing rules in place for your area. This is usually 12 months after an employee’s contract has been terminated.
Do Scan Documents – Don’t Scan Without a Plan in Place
Scanning everything is tempting. After all, it lets you get rid of all paper. However, this is senseless. Not every single piece of paper needs saving. This also costs time and money. When scanning, start with the files used most often. These typically relate to operational processes, compliance, etc. Keep in mind, paper is going to remain a storage medium for your business to some extent.
This is true even if you put your best foot forward to convert completely. If possible, ask employees to scan their important documents. Employee self-service setup empowers your workforce and reduces work for the HR department.
Don’t Complicate Record Access – Do Use a Simple Upload Tool
Scanning is one part of a records management strategy. It is important, but not everything. Having records that are easy to access is essential. This is why you need to use a simple and smart interface. It needs to allow authorized users to store digital documents in one location. This creates a sense of responsibility and control, allowing simultaneous access by several users. This can reduce queues significantly.
Do Create a Policy for Employee Records Retention – Don’t Give Everyone Equal Access
Not all employees need unlimited access to documents. Create a policy that lets everyone know their access limitations. Make sure to consider how your business operates and how information is used.
Do Set Up Records Protection – Don’t Forget Storage in Disaster Recovery Plans
No one knows when disaster is going to strike. This is why it is important to have a viable disaster recovery plan in place. It doesn’t matter if the disaster is the result of a storm, earthquake, or another occurrence. It is important to have access to stored records. In fact, easily accessing this information makes a difference in how quickly your business can get back up and running.
Don’t Ignore Advances in Information Management – Do Use the Services of a Trusted Partner
Technology and information management are constantly changing. These changes are going to continue to shape your business operations. You can’t forget to consider this. If you just put your records in storage without any organization, you are going to pay for it later. Find a business partner who remains on top of HR technology innovation and compliance, so you don’t have to.
The Bottom Line
Records retention is something every business has to comply with. If you fail to do so, it may result in you facing fines and other penalties. With HR software you can easily store, manage, and find records when they are needed. It can also help you comply with all the rules and regulations in place. Don’t underestimate the importance of record retention. While it may seem daunting and tedious, it is an important part of running a business. If you still haven’t adopted a system in place yet, talk with your HR department about the use of innovative software solutions.