4 things you need to know before switching to a digital environment 

stock-photo-throwing-a-paper-plane-in-th-375644-646180-edited.pngHR departments, it seems, are — for the most part — moving toward a less paper-centric document storage system.

Only 23 percent of the HR professionals who participated in a survey conducted at the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual conference three years ago said their department solely used paper to create and store documents.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents, in fact, said their department was mostly or completely digital, or used paper for half of its materials and digitally dealt with the rest.

With the push in recent years for offices to green operations — 43 percent of organizations say they’re trying to align their sustainability efforts with their overall business goals, mission or values, according to a McKinsey & Company survey involving executives various industries — it makes sense that HR departments would consider cutting back on their paper use.

Digital HR document storage can provide some obvious benefits — such as:
  • Physical HR document storage needs are typically reduced, which can result in cost savings.
  • Digitally housed items are often more easily accessible both for employees who need to obtain forms and check information and HR professionals; so efficiency can also increase.
  • In addition, HR digital systems can help companies more easily track — and then assess — user behavior to potentially better inform their retention, wage, scheduling and other decisions.

Digital storage, though, if handled improperly can present some risks.

Before your organization officially switches to an all- or nearly-all-digital document environment, taking the following considerations into account can help ensure you’re addressing the necessary safety and other potential concerns:

cyber-security.pngConfirm HR document storage is secure

Assuming your IT department has taken all the necessary steps to protect sensitive employee data isn’t the best approach. Familiarize yourself with the specific methods IT is using — such as firewall security — by asking to discuss what your company is doing to safeguard the system with a department representative, or by requesting a written overview. If any vulnerabilities seem to exist, work with IT to correct them.

Educate employees

A number of cyberattack techniques, such as spearfishing, where recipients can, for example, be tricked into logging into a system because they received an email from a somewhat authentic-looking address, rely on human error. Keeping employees informed on a regular basis about current schemes can help reduce the chance they’ll fall for one and accidentally submit login credentials or other information.

Protect data from disappearing

Losing items due to accidental deletion, a hardware failure or another issue can be a legitimate concern. Backing HR digital items up is important. Cloud-based storage can help reduce potential on-site issues, such as a natural disaster wiping out power or a hard drive being destroyed. Use of cloud-based core HR human management systems has increased every year for the past five years, according to a survey conducted by Sierra-Cedar.


Examine usability

The biggest issues companies with hybrid paper-digital environments have with moving to an all-digital document storage system involve documents existing in multiple systems, instead of being available in one organization-wide directory, according to a survey of HR professionals. Conducting a thorough inventory of all HR digital solutions and what products other departments within the organization are using can help; if integration isn’t possible, going paperless may present additional challenges.

Some organizations may find implementing shared cloud storage for the HR and finance department — or other departments — can help improve efficiency.

For more tips on using technology to make HR operations more efficient, check out our blog posts on tech and the employee experience, 3 ways to improve tech recruitment practices and how to transform talent management with people analytics.