The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

Going Paperless in HR… Yes, it IS Really Possible!

paperlessHuman Resource departments have notoriously been flooded with paper. Whether it’s employment applications, I-9’s, Insurance enrollment forms or separation paperwork, HR people are committed to having actual signatures on documents… and retaining the paper that they were signed on. But technology and laws have evolved and it is perfectly acceptable to keep electronic copies of signed documents, as well as collect electronic signatures, eliminating the need for paper at all.

HR administrators with processes and policies of document retention often spout stories of a time a document was lost or a mistake was made and there was no “proof” to back up the actual situation. But the world is changing! According to a survey of Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), 77% of HR Departments have gone paperless. These HR professionals report spending 35% less time on HR administration – leaving time for critical business relationship building and strategic initiatives to be developed.

A real advantage of using technology today to store data is the advent of SAAS – Software as a Service. This is the term for utilizing a vendor who retains control of the software system and stores your data in the cloud. This eliminates the need for the days of complex implementation, purchasing enough computing power to run complex programs and worrying about the security of data. With a SAAS solution, you can access your data from anywhere and the vendor takes care of the programming issues.

As organizations are becoming more nimble and focused on cutting costs, going paperless also reduces space and increases confidence with compliance obligations. As quoted in a recent SHRM article on going paperless, 50% of HR professionals who have paper driven processes feel they are in compliance with all obligations and can produce documentation is requested. This is in contrast with 70% of the paperless HR offices who are certain they would be able to produce documents as required. Leaders feel with digital HR documentation it is easier to evaluate and monitor compliance of a large team quickly.

In a recent Towers Watson survey, 74% of HR leaders report moving to an electronic performance management system.  There are numerous systems that will create a digital conversation between employee and manager, and retain the documentation for the future. Systems allow for a two-way discussion to be documented, easily tracking goals and objectives and the capture of an electronic signature. One benefit I have always found helpful in digital reviews is the ability for managers to review the information throughout the year, with having to bother HR to pull the review from the file, copy and refile!

Change is never easy – but going paperless is a way of the future. There is no reason to generate paper that only has to be printed, compiled, filed and found when needed. The vast majority of our employees are comfortable with technology and completing forms on line. Consider your options next time you go to a create a form to be used in your organization.

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