HR transformation is the term applied to the reimagining of the Human Resources department so HR professionals can contribute new insights and value to their organizations. Digitizing processes to reduce administrivia is a critical milestone in the HR transformation journey. In conversations with HR leaders across many business types, it is clear most have made progress digitally transforming processes, yet paper continues to be a problem. Employee document management, unemployment claims and garnishments are three areas where paper continues to be an obstacle in HR transformation. HR departments are not increasing their headcounts, so efficiency gains through digitizing processes are required to minimize time spent on administrative functions. In addition, staying compliant with ever-changing regulations and maintaining the security of employee information is difficult to achieve when paper is prevalent. Here are three ways to accelerate your digital transformation:
Many companies try to utilize their HRIS or HCM for document management, however, an HRIS is not well-designed for this purpose. Converting paper documents to digital and uploading to an HRIS is a cumbersome, inefficient process. The cost and effort to continually digitize documents for uploading to an HRIS often results in rapid paper accumulation or decisions to digitize only some documents and processes. Show me a large company using their HRIS for document management and I’ll show you a company still shuffling paper.
HR departments must take a proactive approach to compliance and know if critical documentation is missing or expired. This is difficult in an HRIS because documents are attached to the employee record and there is no efficient mechanism to identify missing documents. A timely response to audits or unemployment claims requiring documentation review is nearly impossible because HR is forced to download or print from the HRIS. And what about complying with state and federal document retention regulations—are you following policy or is your HRIS creating its own retention policy?
There is a misconception that ongoing scanning of all documents is the best method to remove paper from HR processes. While scanning is a component of a digitization strategy, there should be a goal to reduce the need to scan over time by creating a “digital start to finish” plan. Technologies that enable e-forms to be signed digitally are becoming more common, allowing a document to remain digital throughout its lifecycle.
Onboarding solutions, applicant-tracking systems, benefits applications and learning management systems can all generate born-digital documents. When I hear HR professionals say they print documents from these systems and scan them into their document management solution, it’s a little like fingernails on a chalkboard. Through an API or some form of system interface, documents should be able to flow from one system to another.
To ensure documents remain digital throughout their lifecycle, access to those documents must be considered.
Employees, auditors, litigators and business partners all need access to documents managed by HR. Look for features in the HR document management system that facilitate secure, controlled and auditable access to those documents without printing or downloading. While sharing employee documents as attachments in emails is common practice, it creates security and compliance risks. Secure links to documents utilizing two-factor authentication is a much smarter approach for sharing documents. HR should have the ability to decide if documents sent via secure links can be printed or downloaded. Auditors and litigators may need prolonged access to many documents so secure file rooms should be another feature of the HR document management solution. By eliminating the need to print, download or copy documents, paper doesn’t creep back into the process and documents can remain digital until they are due for deletion.
Successful organizations treat employee engagement as a mechanism to create a competitive advantage and a cornerstone of innovation and growth. This focus has helped elevate the human resources profession and made HR transformation an important initiative. Forward-thinking HR departments are using the right technology ecosystems to ensure time is spent improving employee engagement and supporting their company’s goals, and not on administrivia.
By BJ Johnson: Senior Specialist, Digital Solutions & Marketing