HR managers and email archiving

An enterprise email archiving system is essential to provide the transparency and visibility needed in an organisation, regardless of its size. However, many HR Managers still do not have total visibility of employee emails.

Whatever the cause may be, it results in management not having a full visibility of corporate email communication – but this is critical when an issue arises which requires access to employee emails. How quick can HR cut through all their company email correspondence to get to what they need?

Unfortunately, most organisations only find out how difficult it can be to search and retrieve specific emails only when an investigation is upon them. There is no central archive, historical emails are spread across user local stores (such as PST files), across multiple mail accounts and historical mail accounts restored from backups. HR managers rely on IT for help to gain the background on incidents of workplace bullying and email misuse.

Let’s take a look at how an enterprise email archive can give your organisation an advantage when it comes to these situations:

Workplace Bullying Incidents

Workplace bullying is a prevalent issue in the Australian workforce. A review conducted by the NSW government found that bullying is rife in public service, as reported by Sydney Morning Herald. Out of over 60,000 NSW government employees, 48% had witnessed bullying at work, 29% had been bullied in the past 12 months, and 6% had formally complained about bullying behaviour.

Mr O’Farrell said the report “highlights areas that need to be improved including workplace bullying, the focus on accountability, financial management expertise and workforce planning.”

From the perspective of the court or Fair Work Australia, a harassment claim that takes place verbally or physically is difficult to prove unless there is some sort of record, such as video footage. This is why emails tend to play an important role in such claims. Since most messages both internally and externally are communicated via email, those making claims can allude to particular emails as crucial supporting evidence.

According to Graeme Head, the Public Service Commissioner who released the report, “it is likely that a proportion of what people perceive as bullying arises from the absence of good performance management practices and organisational culture.”

An enterprise email archive that captures every email (not leaving it up to employees to archive in an ad-hoc manner) gives HR managers the transparency and visibility needed to conduct a fair investigation in case an incident such as this occurs. An archive that allows access to several users is beneficial in cases such as these, as HR should be able to be collect and review this type of sensitive data without having to involve IT.

Email Misuse

Many companies have found themselves in a legal dispute due to employees sharing pornography via their work email. As reported by The Courier-Mail, Joydeep Hor of management firm People & Culture Strategies said that porn is still the most common type of offensive material being sent around office computers. However, rude emails about managers or co-workers as well as the accidental ‘reply-all’ email are common as well.

As evidenced by what happened to Thales Australia earlier this year, the communication of an email policy can result in a judge voting against an organisation, despite the argument that this is part of the ‘common sense’ of work email etiquette.

Although it was reinforced with login popups as well as via email, it was reported Thales failed to prove that the policies were communicated and understood by the employees in question. Organisations must be diligent in recording the enforcement of these policies in case they are faced with this type of dispute.

Regulatory Compliance

Not only is retaining each email a good insurance policy which prepares you against future harassment claims, but it ensures that you comply with employee legislation required by the state. Each state has specific regulations for how long you need to retain records pertaining to employee work performance (the Fair Work Act requires a minimum of 7 years).

Since each email sent between co-workers can be construed to be relevant to employee work performance, every email should be retained. When HR managers do not have access across a whole organisation’s email archive, they are at a significant disadvantage. It is much safer to archive every email.

Enterprise Email Archiving Best Practices

It is important that an organisation does all it can to ensure total visibility over email, since it is the main communication channel for businesses, both internally and externally.

To achieve this, make sure you do the following:

  • Save every email. This is the first and most basic thing you can do to ensure full visibility and comply with state law. Employees deleting emails can cost you a lot in the way of time of money.
  • Have an internet security and email policy in place that is well communicated. It has to be specific (x, y and z will not be tolerated), and you have to prove that employees fully understand and have agreed to it. In the case of workplace bullying this may cause bullies to be more careful in their email use, however it is still a good way to help support an investigation after a problem has occurred.
  • Are able to quickly search and retrieve anything in your archive. This will allow you to save time (and subsequently money) in the case of a dispute – making sure you don’t incur fines for producing data late in the case of an eDiscovery request. Especially in situations like the ones stated above, it would be better to not have to depend on IT to gather this kind of data, because HR need to be able to respond and collect this data extremely urgently.

Although we cannot control what employees say and how they behave with each other, having an archiving solution in place that captures each employee email ensures none have been accidentally deleted, and gives HR managers the transparency and visibility they need for tough situations.

To learn more about your email archiving options, please download our free eBook:

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