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Document Hoarders Can Make You Pay a Hefty Price for Their Bad Habits

Why hoarding your documents is a Records Management No-No.

There are document hoarders and then there are document hoarders. Some like to be cautious about destroying their organisation’s documents and records and want to hold on just a little bit longer before saying, ‘shred’.

But there are those that feel the need to hold on to everything including all those post it notes stashed in draws. These are the document hoarders that can cost your organisation money, not to mention increase the risks associated with documents and records.

The Need to Keep Documents & Records

There is a definite need for organisations to hold on to documents and records. In fact, many types of records have to be kept for many years to comply with records management legislation.

However, balancing the need to keep documents and records with the necessity to destroy those that are no longer valuable and can legally be destroyed is not an easy task.

You have to make sure that all records that have legal retention periods are classified, their whereabouts are known and they are tracked as they move about your organisation. You also have to classify your organisation’s own documents that hold value but do not need to comply with legislated retention periods.

When your documents and records are well classified and managed it is a lot easier to reduce storage and management costs as outdated documents can be securely destroyed.

Records Management, when done well will allow you to comply with relevant legislation while looking after other valuable in-house documents that help your organisation make better decisions.

Enter the Document Hoarder

Now depending on the size of your organisation, you may have more than one of these document hoarders. They are usually easy to spot as they seem to have far more paperwork than anyone else and their drawers or filing cabinets are often over flowing.

Chances are these document hoarders made your life difficult when you were trying to assess what records and documents your organisation owned. Likely, they made classifying your records and documents harder too as they insisted their scribbled notes somehow held great value to the organisation and had to be kept.

Now that you are trying to move some of your records and documents offsite and securely shred others these document hoarders are likely howling at the moon like some supernatural shape shifter.

Handling Document Hoarders

The trick to handling document hoarders is to calm their inner beast before you announce plans to move and/or destroy documents.
The trick is to get them to understand and admit that certain documents no longer hold any value and can safely be destroyed or transferred to an offsite storage facility.

Now obviously this may need to be done for a wide variety of documents and we do not have any proven arguments lined up. However, as long as you follow a few common sense guidelines in your efforts you will have a much easier time.

  • Approach any document hoarders before making any announcements
  • Take the time to listen to them and their points of view
  • Acknowledge their communication
  • Ask them to consider the pros and cons of holding on to documents and how it affects the organisation as well as their ability to do their jobs
  • Try to get their co-operation and willingness to comply without being forceful

The idea is to make the process of offsite storage and document destruction a smooth one. If you can get individuals who have trouble letting things go to see the positive side of the process you can avoid conflicts.

The last thing you want hoarders to do is to start making their own copies of documents and records. Or, to stash them somewhere, out of a misguided need to protect company information or for their own insecurities related to documents that they feel they need.

By confronting document hoarders you can reduce storage costs as well as reduce the risk of information breaches that come with documents that you thought were destroyed but turn out not to be. The amount of time you will save can also be considerable.

Iron Mountain is one of South Africa’s top Records Management Specialists . For more information please contact us today.


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