We are in the process of going paper free. We will be hanging on to our physical library of reference books, but pretty much everything else that can be described as paper has been sorted, is being scanned and once named and saved into the relevant file on our shared drive the debris goes into the maws of the shredder. We have even found someone whose rabbits like snoozing on our shredded paper. Most of our filing cabinets have been sold. Recycling at its best! It’s all very cathartic.
I never thought I’d see the day when HR waved goodbye to its paper mountains. I’m glad I have. We have had to manage so much of the stuff in relation to benefits, training, recruitment, discipline and many other activities. We all know that dealing with paper employee files is inefficient, insecure and paper also takes up a lot of space.
Here are our tips for moving to a paperless HR environment.
- As a precursor to the exercise we talked to our IT support (they went through the same exercise last year) to take advice, discuss the process and get the benefit of their experience. They agreed with us where things would be stored and what the naming conventions would be.
- Under their supervision we bought a small but highly efficient scanner that can scan multiple documents double sided. We started by scanning paper records to create electronic files. These were saved into the relevant files on our shared drive.
- You do need to dedicate some resource to it for several weeks. Our intern Anh has spent a good deal of August working on the project. There’s still a bit left to do, but she’s going great guns. We do periodically rescue her from the boredom of the scanning/ shredding treadmill with a nice bout of doing an HR audit, helping one of the consultants put a tribunal bundle together, working on a couple of settlement agreements and doing a bit of marketing with the consultants, just to ring the changes.
- Traditional HR requires signatures on paper (contracts, performance appraisals, timesheets etc.). Convert to the paper free process by going digital. Digital signatures are much easier to track and process. They are secure and meet legal requirements. Use e-forms and e-signatures. This means employees can complete and sign documents online. Forms can be converted into PDF documents, which can be stored in the appropriate employee files.
- HR people tend to be the note takers in recruitment, redundancy, discipline, grievances etc. meetings. You can still take paper notes and then scan them, but if possible take a small mobile device to your meetings and take notes on that instead. They can be saved straight to the relevant file without the need to scan. NB For the time being I will continue to take paper notes for discipline hearings and keep the original documents. The reason for this is that I have had experience of employment tribunals who will not accept transcribed notes unless they see the handwritten notes as well. That may well change over time.
- Ensure your HR document management solution makes it easy to find documents using a range of search criteria. You should be able to monitor document completion and identify missing documents. Ideally your system should automate processes, such as document routing, approval and filing.
- I am an inveterate note writer. Things are always popping into my head and I scribble them down before I forget. In the past I carried notebooks ad pens everywhere. Use technology to help you. “To do” apps like Any.Do, Evernote and Wunderlist can help you create and share lists, prioritise tasks, and set up reminders for deadlines or recurring projects.
Paper free HR departments can manage relevant employee documents and transactions efficiently, improving productivity, reducing risks and operational costs.
We deal with the good, the bad and the ugly of HR. If you need help moving to a paper-free environment or any other HR issues, give us a call on 01908 262628.
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