Are Electronic Systems the Future of HR?
Technology is now present in almost all walks of life, so can HR also benefit from the electronic phenomenon of modern society?
The HR department has historically been associated with masses of paperwork and files. These records are vital for reference and are often subject to legislation surrounding retention periods and security of storage.
HR Document Management in the Cloud
Digitising paper documents isn’t just about accepting that technology is looming larger than ever. In fact, there’s a whole host of reasons that many departments are turning towards this system.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of digitising HR records is the ability to then store them securely in the cloud. As opposed to filing cabinets, drawers and archive boxes, there’s no physical furniture needed to house the mountains of paper that pile up over time.
Think about the time that it may have taken to retrieve documents out of office furniture. The most organised of systems may boast a couple of minutes but one misplacement can make a file nearly impossible to find.
If your files have been scanned and stored in the cloud, it’s simply a case of using a web browser to find them. Documents are usually indexed using OCR and are searchable with the press of a few keys.
Keeping Files Safe and Saving Money
In some cases, easy search may not seem like a major benefit if you don’t retrieve files on a regular basis. It’s not the only advantage though.
Digital HR files are much less susceptible to damage. Tears, spilt liquids and other accidents aren’t a danger and if something does happen to go wrong, records are backed up and easily attained once again.
Protection can also be boosted as documents are protected behind security software, far safer than a drawer or archive box. Only people with specific permissions can access records. Since many HR documents contain confidential data, it’s imperative to keep them protected.
On top of this, in most cases money savings can be made. The whole system isn’t free but HR software can reduce costs in other areas. Money can then be pumped into other areas of the HR department and business as a whole to drive forward.
If It’s Not Paper, What Is It?
Different documents are better suited to different formats. For example, feedback forms suit a PDF or Word doc format whereas numbers and figures usually belong in a spreadsheet.
Records can be put into any format you desire. This is good to know, but how exactly does this help the HR efforts of a company?
Imagine you find a specific document with the intention of making minor edits. Let’s say that it’s an employee’s address details and they’ve just moved home. If the file is saved in an editable format, it’s going to be much easier to amend and accessible in just a few seconds.
What About Legality?
Different governing bodies will have varying guidelines on paper and digital records. Always ensure that you are sticking to specific rules laid out by authorities. There are rules for keeping document types apart and also slightly different ones by institution.
For the main part, most allow for digital records, provided they are kept to a suitable manner and can be produced when requested. With that being said, HR teams should remember that certain points should be adhered to at all times.
Retention periods, password controls and data protection all apply. Again, consult relevant people to make absolutely sure you’re doing everything in the right way.
Are Records Solely Online?
During the course of time, we’ve all come to realise that nothing is quite as perfect as some people would like to make out. Cloud based HR records aren’t completely without fault but with a bit of care, many issues aren’t a threat.
The most obvious is probably that with no internet connection, there’s no access to files. To combat this, documents can be saved offline and are still retrievable. You should make sure that saved records are only accessible on authorised staff members’ devices or CDs, DVDs and memory sticks that aren’t available to everybody.
Paperwork is available without an internet connection of course. Non-digital storage mediums can’t offer these levels of security though, making digitised copies that much safer.
Is the Future of HR a Paperless One?
HR plays a pivotal role in the operations and growth of any company. A lot of time and money goes into developing the department and electronic systems may just provide the resources needed to streamline processes, enabling accelerated procedures.
Paper may have reigned supreme but new and more efficient solutions may shape the future of the HR landscape. Whilst it remains to be seen whether one day every department will make the move to paperless environments, the resources to do so will undoubtedly be there.
About the Author
Andy Morley works for Cleardata. The company provides digital HR solutions for a range of businesses from SMEs to large corporations.