While HR is busy with countless important business processes, document-related work keeps piling up. With all the different document types like personal, payroll, and performance review information, there are some serious consequences for holding on to private records longer than necessary.
That’s what we’re here for. We’ll break down three of the top reasons why you shouldn’t keep documents for longer than necessary.
Document Retention Guidelines
First off, it’s important that you know exactly how long you need to keep certain records around. Different types of documents have distinct retention requirements. And while some records have federal guidelines, there are often state agencies or other local entities that have even more strict retention requirements.
Check with your local government for requirements on how long you should keep each type of record for. Here are some common examples:
- Hiring Records — 1 year after hire
- Tax Records — following the 4th quarter for that filing year
- Benefits Information — 6 years after the termination of the plan
One of the biggest mistakes that HR teams can make in regards to record retention is holding on to documents “just in case.” Most HR professionals are very well-versed in what could happen if they dispose of their records too early, but there may be dangerous consequences for keeping them too long, too.
You should only keep files if they serve some sort of legal or operational purpose. If they don’t and you have no need to refer to them in the future, you shouldn’t keep them.
Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t keep your records longer than necessary.
1. Records Take Up Space
The more records you hang on to, the more storage space you’ll need. Using up limited storage space is one of the simplest arguments why you shouldn’t keep your records forever. But its significance can be overlooked as most organizations have made the switch to a digital document storage solution with unlimited space.
Having the option to purchase more storage space with a single click doesn’t completely free you from this problem, though. Just because you can store more data, doesn’t mean you should. It will still clutter up your storage space and force you to take more time to locate a specific document.
Having a digital solution with unlimited storage can make the need for deleting unneeded records even more important. You could potentially hold on to every file that has crossed your path, but that would make any document-based work going forward a mess.
2. Liability and Litigation
Keeping records for longer than necessary can also involve you in legal issues that would have otherwise been avoided. For example, if you receive a subpoena for a particular document, you are required by law to respond to it.
If the retention requirements permitted you to delete those particular records, then it will not be your problem as long as you did delete them. You are free from involvement after following the guidelines perfectly. But after you’re requested to present them by a court, it’s too late to delete them even if the retention requirements allow it.
If you decide to keep those documents around “just in case,” you have no choice but to involve yourself in the upcoming legal proceedings.
Disposing of your documents in a timely manner the moment you no longer need them will free yourself from the legal challenges. Keeping up with record retention will stop you from putting unnecessary work on your plate.
You are responsible for protecting all the information in your possession. Securing all of the health, compensation, performance reviews, and other confidential information is a key part of your job.
If a data breach were to occur where a malicious party gained access to past employee information on your servers, you would be the one to pay the price. That could mean your organization would have to pay hefty fines and make things right with employees whose information was exposed.
The only way to take that responsibility away is by disposing of as much private employee information as you can—that will still allow you to operate efficiently and maintain compliance with regulatory requirements.
Properly Dispose of Documents
While these three reasons why you should delete your documents are on the top of your mind, you should also consider that properly disposing of them is just as important. Putting them in the trash is not enough—whether that’s a physical or digital one.
You can have the confidence that you’ve disposed of your records properly by ensuring that they can’t be recovered or reconstructed.
Use Technology to Handle the Destruction of Records
As an HR leader, you have more than enough on your plate. Properly disposing of your records is just one more thing that can take up significant time and energy in addition to keeping employees engaged, promoting a positive culture, and creating training programs for the continued development of employees.
Technology exists to simplify your job. Because while maintaining compliance with record retention guidelines is important, it’s not the only part of your job that matters. Luckily, Rubex by eFileCabinet is a solution that will not only dispose of your records completely, but can also automate the deletion after a specified period of time. Record retention has never been easier. Discover Rubex to streamline your time-consuming document processes.