From hiring paperwork to onboarding manuals, training materials, and payroll slips—every file affects how organized and productive the company is. Taking that into consideration, HR document management plays an invaluable role in streamlining internal communication processes and ensuring seamless business operations.

Strict regulatory requirements and a soaring dependence on technology—with about 80% of organizations depending on HR software, according to a Forbes round-up article—demand top-notch document management as an indispensable element of a winning HR strategy. In this guide, you’ll learn about document management best practices, upcoming trends, and breakthroughs in technology, all geared toward streamlining information flow and fostering a unified, well-informed work environment.

HR Document Management
Image by Freepik

Best practices

Below are some of the best practices for HR document management to help streamline operations, enhance accessibility, and ensure regulatory compliance.

1. Use the right format

Only certain HR documents should be accessible to everyone in the organization. For example, staff performance reviews should only be accessible to managers and the HR department. Defining who needs access and determining the required security level for each document enables you to set up permissions accordingly and protect sensitive employee information.

Choosing the right file format can help ensure document integrity across the board. For instance, it’s strongly recommended that HR managers convert Word to PDF files before storing or sharing them. This protects sensitive information while preventing unwanted modifications. PDFs may also come with password protection, which can further limit access rights to authorized individuals.  

2. Create a document retention policy 

According to a survey, an employee spends an average of 89 seconds looking for a long-lost document, which amounts to around $3,747 of lost productivity per employee every month. In such cases, having a document retention policy in place can save the company a significant amount of money.

A document retention policy is a set of practices that guides how documents are saved, stored, or destroyed. Companies use such guidelines to comply with laws that mandate a retention or destruction period for specific document types.

Some of the questions that should guide your retention parameters include: 

  • How long are the records going to be active, and who’s going to interact with them?
  • What are the retention guidelines and laws for employee records in your industry?
  • What events could lead to the destruction or archiving of documents? 
  • Which HR documents are required by the law to keep?

Documents like employee records, tax filings, and payroll details need to be maintained for a specified period according to employment laws. Additionally, in circumstances such as audits or legal disputes, having a retention policy in place allows quick access to necessary documents, saving time and potential legal complications.

3. Create a secure storage system 

For HR managers, establishing secure storage for documents is an issue of pressing importance. This springs not solely from their role as custodians of a wide range of confidential and sensitive information—from employment contracts to performance records—but also from the escalating threats of data breaches and identity theft. 

A report from the Identity Theft Resource Center showed that more than 2,000 data breaches occur every year in the United States alone. Hence, securing sensitive employee data can increase the trust between employees and the organization while also protecting the company from potential legal implications.

Trends and tech advancements

Discover the latest trends and tech advancements transforming the HR document management landscape below.

1. Mobile access

Many employees use mobile phones to access company documents and messages. In a survey, 64% of working adults answered that they use their smartphones for business-related purposes. In another survey, 84% of business leaders responded that their employees need their smartphones to do their work effectively.

HR managers should provide mobile access to ensure employees can access the information, as well as fill, edit, and sign documents with ease. This will save time as they won’t have to wait to get to the office or use computers before performing a task. HR managers can also benefit as they can manage the documents from anywhere if they’re connected to the internet.

Additionally, mobile access can help in reducing versioning issues. If employees can access HR documents from any device, it’ll reduce the chances of working with an outdated version. 

2. Cloud-based systems

From decluttering the document retention process to swift sorting and retrieval, cloud-based HR information systems (HRIS) and document management systems (DMS) serve you efficiency on a digital platter. 

In fact, according to a survey conducted about trends in HR technology and service delivery, 46% of organizations use HR Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms or solutions. This number is expected to increase to 57% by the end of 2023. Meanwhile, 64% believe the use of these platforms allowed them to improve cost savings, productivity, and employee retention. 

What about security, you ask? Well, rest easy knowing these platforms are fortified with stringent access controls and high-grade encryption, enhancing the security of the organization’s data storage significantly.

3. Blockchain technology

Experts predict that global investment in blockchain solutions will grow to $19 billion by 2024. Blockchain technology in HR facilitates tamper-evident and self-auditing ecosystems where every change is recorded. Once a transaction is recorded on the blockchain, it can’t be altered or deleted—especially useful for documentation requiring strict record-keeping, such as contracts or confidential information disclosures.

Additionally, blockchain can simplify HR processes by eliminating the necessity for middlemen. For instance, sharing HR files across international branches can entail going through multiple regulatory and administrative hoops. Blockchain technology can streamline these processes, allowing instantaneous, secure sharing and verification of the documents. 

Final Words

When it comes to HR, document management is not a choice—it’s a crucial necessity. It’s the heartbeat of maintaining secure, easily accessible records in line with both legal standards and your own in-house rules.

Furthermore, by embracing enhanced security formats and incorporating broader document retention strategies, you elevate the security of confidential records. And let’s not forget the role of cutting-edge tech solutions that bring unmatched efficiency and robust reliability to the table. As HR leaders, you won’t just secure files; you’ll build resilient systems that instill confidence throughout the organization.