Why You Should Reconsider Emailing Your Policies and Procedures

In a rapidly advancing field of technology, it’s no secret that communication is becoming easier and easier, and the workplace is no exception. Even though it’s been around for over 2 decades, email is still the most favored medium for distributing communication: from organizational updates to department announcements to Q&As with human resources – email has been the chosen method for communication distribution.

There are definitive benefits to email, such as reducing paper waster and eliminating cost, sharing documents, ideas, and other information with the click of a button. While the speed and ease with which information is disseminated via email is not in dispute – there are some considerable risks to email to consider. Specifically, when it comes to utilizing email to distribute new policies and procedures to employees.

While email is a strategic part of the puzzle in so far as alerting employees to key changes to policies and procedures, an effective strategy requires much more.

The problem begins with the assumption that an email sent and received is an email read. And when it comes to compliance – relying on email alone will put your organization at risk and raise liability concerns. In order to maintain compliance, the dissemination of this type of information needs to be intentional and strategic.

Security Risks

The theft of data is no longer an unusual news headline. From politicians to national banking institutions, data theft is of paramount concern, and for good reason. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, data theft has grown more than 650% in recent years. When you email policies and procedures you raise the risk for security issues, which is especially troublesome when it comes to the sensitive information your email may contain. Due to this risk – many tech experts agree that in general, email is a liability when it comes to distributing sensitive information, especially when it comes to healthcare organizations and the sensitivity needed around patient information and HIPAA laws.

An organization that has a data breach can suffer from a loss in valuation, the stealing of intellectual property, class-action lawsuits, and compromised user accounts. And when it comes to your healthcare organization – those user accounts are most likely patients – and the effects of a data breach can be devasting both in the cost to your reputation and the financial burden you may acquire as a result. This problem can also be exacerbated by employee misuse of company email which only further exposes your organization to increased liabilities.

How can you decrease the risk? Develop a new policy requiring stricter passwords, ensure your employees change those passwords every 3-6 months, back up your data, encrypt your emails and consider utilizing a cloud-based software to manage this sensitive information.

Accountability

Moving beyond the security risks, emailing your policies can cause safety issues for those that do not read or receive your email. In order to comply, you will want to take extra steps to make sure employees read and retain the information you distribute.

A “read receipt” is not a guarantee that an email was read or retained. In addition – if the information you’re sending is information necessary to perform the job correctly – you could face litigation later on down the line – when you have no way of showing that you were strategic and intentional about distributing this information to your employees. An employee could simply state they didn’t know the email was policy-related, and that could lead to some strenuous legal ramifications.

Version Control

When you email your policies – you have no way of ensuring version control. As policies and procedures are always in a constant state of flux – sending them out via email doesn’t mean the old version automatically gets replaced. Document control is just another way emailing policies can affect safety and compliance.

We’ve all been there. We are the receivers in a long email train and in there somewhere someone updates the document in question – but we miss the update. The same can be true with your policies. There’s no way of controlling which version an employee will save and whether it will be the most recent.

Protect Your Organization

Given all the risks, give your organization the intentional and strategic step it needs to take and consider purchasing a cloud-based software to manage your documents in one safe and centralized location. Policy management software will ensure your policies are safe, and that employees are accountable and holding the most recent versions of your policies and procedures. You can easily alert employees to updates, track electronic signatures, follow-up to make sure each of your employees sign off on new and changing policies and procedures, develop customizable tests and surveys to help employees retain the information in your documents as well as allow them to provide feedback for how you might improve your policies moving forward.

The ComplyALIGN Policy Manager can automate your policy management activities and store all of your policies in one location so your staff can search, access, and attest to policy readership. Learn more today!

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