No matter which department you work in, there are only 24 hours in every day. When it comes to HR departments, those hours can easily be consumed by administrative tasks that make it even harder for HR to deliver its strategic contribution. In addition to overseeing all hiring and onboarding processes and managing day-to-day personnel issues and payroll, HR professionals also are responsible for the handling and protection of sensitive employee records, including:
- Applications, Resumes and Verification Documents
- Employee Record Information
- Payroll and Benefit Selections
- Onboarding and Policy Affirmation Documents
- Certifications, Licenses and Credentials
- Performance Management Documents
- Career Progression / Training and Development Records
- Retirement / Termination Documents
From ensuring compliance to preparing for audits, litigation and internal reviews, the proper care and management of these documents adds an extra layer of complexity to daily operations, and it is often extremely time-consuming.
While the number of paper and electronic files your organization produces will continue to grow, there is a better way to manage all these documents and become more efficient and accurate at the same time. By applying time-tested best practices in Records and Information Management, the HR team can reduce the hours spent preparing, searching for and discarding documents and free up time for more strategic projects.
Start with a Self-Assessment
An effective document management strategy is critical for achieving HR compliance, as well as for preparing for audits, litigation, internal reviews and external requests. If your organization does not have a strategy in place, now is a good time to start implementing efficient, secure practices into your workflow.
Is your office lined with filing cabinets full of expired and outdated records or have you already started the transition towards a more digital environment? Regardless of format, all physical and electronic records need to be organized in a way that offers security and accessibility.
HR departments handle a vast amount of paperwork before the hiring process is even completed. From applications and resumes to reference checks, background checks and job postings, every document created during this process must be filed, saved and securely discarded according to the appropriate retention schedule. These records are critical to ensuring that your hiring process provides an equal opportunity for all applicants.
Once an employee is hired, there are even more records! Tax forms, residency verification, personal medical information and all the other records that are created over the course of an employee’s tenure must be properly stored to ensure compliance with government requirements, including but certainly not limited to:
- Title VII
- Age Discrimination Act
- Equal Pay Act (EPA)
One of the easiest ways to organize your records is to create separate files for specific categories within each employee’s file. We recommend files for each of the following:
- Personnel File (including Application, Verification, Onboarding and Employee Record Information)
- I-9 File
- Performance Management, Learning and Development, and Career Progression File
- Medical File (as needed)
Sorting HR documents into their respective files allows employees to find and access the information they need more efficiently, saving your department time and unnecessary frustration.
Make a Commitment
Developing and implementing retention schedules for your documents is vital to ensuring your records management strategy is compliant. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is often more dangerous to keep files beyond their retention date than it is to purge them on schedule. If the files are kept, they are available to be queried in litigation or audits, potentially exposing the organization to unnecessary risks.
Depending on the record type, the length of retention can range anywhere from one year to thirty years after the employee leaves your organization; however, specific industries (such as healthcare and finance) and organizations often have varying schedules. Be sure to consult with your legal counsel about your organization’s particular needs before finalizing your records retention policies.
In addition, because government regulations and organizations are always changing, you’ll want to be sure to review and update your retention schedule on a consistent basis. Conducting an annual review will allow you to make any required changes as needed.
Once you’ve organized your records and determined the appropriate retention policy, it’s time to discard any outdated records that your organization no longer needs. Creating individual retention schedules for each document can be a tedious and inefficient process. In order to save time and manpower, many organizations use what is called the “Big Bucket Retention Model,” which allows records to be sorted into one or a few categories, such as 1 Year, 3 Year, 7 Year and Permanent Buckets. This process can also be automated to save you even more time.
When individual documents (or an entire bucket) reaches its retention end-date, you’ll need to determine the proper destruction procedures. This will vary depending on whether the files are physical or digital and where they are stored. Secure document destruction of paper records can be handled via outsourced shredding services and, since this is PII, you should look for companies who can offer a certified and secure chain-of-custody with visibility and sign-offs at the various points of hand over. Your IT department can assist with requirements for purging digital documents.
Transform to a “Less Paper” Department
Most HR professionals are already familiar with the benefits that HR technology can bring to their daily operations, yet many departments are still utilizing time-consuming paper processes within their workflows. And, organizations that have made a shift towards digital solutions are often using multiple tools that only satisfy one task, whether that is Payroll, Time and Attendance, Onboarding or Applicant Tracking, etc. Unfortunately, in many instances, whether in integrated HRIS or HCM systems or systems constructed of best-of-breed point solutions, HR Document Management is given short shrift or is overlooked altogether. When this happens, the HR team can still get mired down in the administrative morass of chasing documents.
The good news is that there is a solution that can help you simplify all your HR Document Management processes, regardless of which system or module generated the document. Access offers FileBRIDGE for HR, a solution that embraces the paperless office and can become your path to better accuracy, HR compliance and freedom from document driven administrative tasks.
You can learn more on our website and in our on-demand webinar, Keys to Effective HR Document Management, where Access’ Senior Digital Solutions Specialist Randy Sanders discusses how you can reduce the amount of paper records your department produces and stores. Discover how FileBRIDGE for HR can make your transition to digital, and your day-to-day HR tasks, even easier.