Worker reads a policy emailed to him in a public place on his tablet.
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May 29, 2019
    Article highlights
  • Emailing policies puts you at risk for security issues.
  • Emailing policies does not guarantee accountability.
  • Emailing policies does not allow for version control.

Did you know that more than 2.8 million emails are sent every second?

It’s no secret that when it comes to communication, technology is rapidly advancing. The workplace is no exception.

You would be hard pressed to find an office that doesn’t use email and other apps to streamline communication.

Like other technologies, email has definite benefits. Not only can using email reduce paper waste and eliminate costs. It can also make sharing information faster and easier.

With the click of a button, you can share documents, ideas, and other information with those in your organization.

However, there are considerable risks to electronic distribution of information.

As organizations move toward paperless offices, many are using email to distribute new policies and procedures to employees.

Email is certainly an important aspect of alerting employees of changes to key policies, but effective a policy management strategy requires so much more.

Emailing policies and assuming employees will read them can cause issues with compliance. Also, relying on email alone can potentially subject you and your organization to risks and liability concerns.

If you want to maintain the level of efficiency email offers while reducing the risks it involves, take the time to be intentional and strategic.

Here are a few things to take into consideration regarding how you relay important information in your organization.

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Emailing policies puts you at risk for security issues

More and more, data theft has become a major news topic – and for good reason. According to the Computer Security Institute and the FBI, data theft has grown more than 650% in recent years.

PWC’s 2016 Global State of Information Security Survey found that there were 38% more cyber security incidents in 2015 than there were in 2014.

Clearly, email has its risk factors, which is especially important to consider when it comes to crucial information and sensitive policy documents.

Because of this risk, some tech experts argue that email, in general, is a liability for businesses and other organizations, urging users to think carefully about how they manage information.

Scientist Gail Naughton told the San Diego Union Tribune,

“The predominant form of communication in most businesses today is email, and it is virtually impossible to avoid the use of the internet and email in this cyber climate.

“A business that is the victim of hackers can suffer from a loss in valuation, the stealing of intellectual property, class-action lawsuits, and compromised user accounts. The problem is exacerbated by employee misuse of the company email which further exposes it to increased liabilities.”

You can decrease data breach risk with a preventative approach. It may be as simple as developing a new internet policy requiring stricter passwords, backing up your data or encrypting your emails.

If you frequently use email to communicate sensitive information, you may want to think about rerouting these documents to a cloud-based software.

Keep in mind that while emailing sensitive policies may not be the best practice, for some things, email is appropriate and frankly, the most convenient option.

Woman looks intently at her laptop while emailing policies to coworkers.

By planning ahead and taking a preventative approach, you can prevent unnecessary risk. If you want to learn more, MIT offers helpful resources on maintaining data security.

Emailing policies does not guarantee accountability

Beyond security risks, emailing your policies and procedures can cause other safety issues.

Think of it this way: you create policies for the safety of your employees and those with whom they work.

Emailing policies that remain unread can cause compliance issues.

It simply isn’t enough to send these documents to employees. You want to make sure they read and retain the information you distribute. Only then can your team comply with your policies.

Also, keep in mind that opening and reading an email are not the same thing. Read receipts only tell you if an employee has opened what you sent. For this reason, sending email blasts and relying on read receipts can be unwise.

Similarly, emailing your policies can lead to problems for your organization should you face litigation.

If you distribute documents your employees need to do their job well via email, there is no guarantee they will see them.

Further, in a court of law, an employee could argue they never received a policy or did not know an email was policy-related. Lack of accountability like this can cause major legal ramifications.

Female employee reads a policy that has been emailed to her.

Cases such as Campbell v. General Dynamics and State v. Edward Nero show that policy emails alone are not enough to prove that employees read updated policies.

Simply sending out policies via email without any definitive way to track employee engagement will not protect your organization in court.

Using some type email tracking, such as read receipts, may not be sufficient either. It can still be difficult to keep track of which employees have read the policies.

Emailing policies does not allow for version control

As you know, policies and procedures are always evolving. It’s likely you update your documents frequently, so they consistently align with best practices and other requirements.

But do your employees have access to the most up-to-date version of your policies and procedures?

Issues with document control are another way emailing policies can affect safety and compliance.

Think back to the last time you received important information via an email chain. Perhaps the sender went to update the information and sent it to you again. When you went to search for it, it’s likely you looked at the wrong material.

Along these lines, if an organization sends out multiple updates of the same policy via email, there is no way to ensure that employees are referring to the most recent policy.

Employees may accidentally delete newer email updates or get confused by multiple versions when trying to refer to policies.

Protect your organization with cloud-based software

Safety is key when it comes to relaying important information on the internet. And at the end of the day, your organization and those in it need accountability to ensure safety.

Take a step in the right direction and consider managing your documents in one, safe, centralized location. A cloud-based software like PowerDMS may be a great place to start.

Adopting a good policy management software will allow your organization to keep your policies safe, hold employees accountable and make sure employees are reading the most up-to-date policies.

PowerDMS enables you to alert employees to policy updates, track electronic signatures and follow up to make sure every employee signs off on new policies.

Detailed reports also protect your organization by proving employees saw and signed policies.

PowerDMS can also help if you want to ensure your employees always see and read the most recent versions.

Version control ensures that employees only see the updated policies, while administrators can still access the complete document history.

Employee reads through crucial policy documents while using PowerDMS, a policy management software.

Further, PowerDMS can help you make sure your officers retain the important information you share. Customizable tests and surveys help employees understand expectations and give administrators feedback on how to further improve policies and training.

PowerDMS makes policy management simple, trackable and adaptable. Protect and improve your organization by moving past simply emailing policies to a streamlined, secure paperless process.

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