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November 26, 2015 | HRIS | Posted by Deborah Scroggins

Just How Paperless is Your HR Environment?

There is something about surveys. The results grab the headlines, but not enough attention is given to the statistical base. For example, SHRM reports a survey that concludes 77% of Human Resource departments have gone paperless. However, this is based on the input from only 150 HR practitioners, all of whom were attending the 2015 SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) conference and exposition. These results may be indicative, but you need to examine such results in terms of your own business context.

Just how paperless is your HR environment?

SHRM’s numbers

The SHRM survey reports results from 150 attendees at its 2015 annual conference. Members making the conference are typically representing mid- to large-size and even global companies. Assuming the respondents were the cream of the active HR management crop, you have a limited statistical resource. Moreover, the 150 survey participants do not represent the over 15,000 conference attendees in Las Vegas.

If “paperless HR” is a desirable metric, you need to get a better fix on how human resources information software really affects your HR environment.

Your time

No doubt, paperless HR, aka HR automation, in all its variations has relieved HR professionals to better spend their time, hopefully strategically. The larger the employee base, the larger the database and administrative load. As machines and software do their jobs, HR executive administration requires proportionately less paper.

Allowing more data to process faster across more functions and platforms than paper files allow makes HR management enable responsiveness, accessibility, and accuracy.

With Paperless HR:

  • Reduces the carbon footprint represented in volumes of paper.
  • Eliminates physical storage space and redundant paper.
  • Facilitates compliance auditing and shared interest reports.
  • Assures security and backup better than vulnerable files – in most situations.

Their time

The same HR management professionals who decide on the HR software and its provider need staff to run and monitor their paperless HR environment while managers are off doing their strategic best.

  • Historic files have to be scanned and/or digitized.
  • Staff must train to interface with the software system or cloud provider.
  • Policy decisions are needed on what paper can and should be processed or not. For example, will executive contracts and compensation exceptions be handled the same as other employee forms?
  • Input on multi-site, multi-state, and multi-nation records requires some special personal attention.
  • Open litigation makes certain files priority, calling for their segregation, hard copy, and management.
  • Confidentiality is an increased responsibility when the data is available across multiple platforms and accessible by many stakeholders.
  • HIPAA and other employee rights demand specifically strong protections.
  • Software systems and cloud-based systems have been known to fail, and access during critical downtime can put your data at risk.

How paperless is your HR environment?

“Paperless HR” is not simply a measure of volume. It is a function of cost-effectiveness. When measuring the “paperless” factor, you must be able to substantiate how it improves your role as an HR professional. And, just as important, you must be able to measure and justify the additional, different, and redefined work required of your staff.