Communication and educating employees on email retention policies

Communication and educating employees on email retention policies

How should an organization communicate its email retention policy and educate its employees? The policy creation process is over, but the policy implementation and communication process is just getting started. All the people to whom the policy applies must be educated on the need to retain emails, how to identify the emails that must be saved, how to save them, and where to store them. There are many ways where a great email retention policy can fall apart when the rubber meets the road, so let’s look at some best practices to avoid them.


When introducing the policy, be clear on the reasons or rationale for retaining certain types of email, and the consequences for not complying with the policy, if any. Most people want to do the right thing, but time is a precious commodity. Understanding why the few extra seconds it takes to comply are worth it—for the company and themselves—creates a shared vision and goal.

Initial launch and training

The next steps are training users on how to identify an email that needs to be retained, the tools, like, available for aiding that process, where to store it, and how to find it again. Depending on the industry and the regulations or legal environment, formal documentation of training completion may be required.

Ongoing reinforcement

Email retention processes, like any other human behavior, are better retained with frequent exposure to maintain momentum. Some colleagues may encounter several emails each day that meet email retention requirements, but others may not, so ongoing awareness and reminders are key to adoption. And don’t forget to publicize where colleagues can go to get a refresher on the requirements and steps.

Policy updates

If there’s no existing rule on how often a policy should be updated, two years is a good rule of thumb. Organizations using email retention for business collaboration or continuity must determine how changes in collaboration or continuity requirements will be reflected in the email retention policy in between review periods.

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