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Top tips for creating an email retention policy

As emails are important documents, retention is a vital business function. An email archiving solution can help you ensure that all emails are retained in line with legal and regulatory requirements. However, you should put in place other measures that can help you keep your email records compliant. This is when you create an email retention policy.

Create a policy

This is the biggest step and usually the most difficult. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your business can operate without an email policy. If you leave your employees to manage their own email and assume important messages will be there when you need them, you could be in for a nasty shock in the future.

Manage deleted emails

For email retention to be effective, there can be no potential for important emails to be deleted. The policy must have strict guidelines on the deletion of business emails and employees must be under no illusion as to the consequences of disobeying this directive. The rule should always be that no email should be deleted if there is any doubt as to its importance.

Set retention periods

Every department has to be set retention periods for all email documentation. It’s advisable to look at existing legal guidelines to make sure no mistakes are made.

Make the policy apply company-wide

Your policy won’t work if it is not applied across the entire business. A big mistake many companies make is to assume that some departments don’t need to retain emails or aren’t required to do so. Every department has to retain their emails unless they are specifically told otherwise.

Communicate the policy to all employees

Once the email retention policy is in place, make sure that everyone knows about it. It is also a good idea to make sure that every employee signs it so they know they have to follow it. This means direct contact with all current employees and including it in a staff handbook for new starters. This provides an extra level of legal protection for your business.

Enforce it

With a strong email retention policy in place and an informed workforce, you now need to make sure the policy is followed to the letter. Email retention now needs to be monitored at all levels, with the responsibility placed on the heads of different departments.

Reading this, you might be currently thinking that this seems like a lot of work. It’s true that an email retention policy doesn’t always work the way that you plan it to. However, if you deploy an effective email archiving solution, you can guarantee that your business has the ability to deal with eDiscovery requests whenever they come up.