5 Ways to Achieve a Paperless HR Department

Get serious about sustainability by taking these 5 simple steps.

Going paperless in your HR department is the most convenient recordkeeping solution for human resources professionals. Think about it–would you rather continue rummaging through your filing cabinet for that missing form, or type in a keyword that will pull up that form on your screen?

It’s time to face facts: With the ease of going paperless, your copy machine may soon be as outdated as the typewriter.

You deal with paperwork for a slew of different HR functions every day–and all that paper tends to build up into a cluttered mess. Paperless solutions for onboarding, compliance, benefits, and a lengthy list of other functions will streamline all your responsibilities.

You know better than anyone that HR probably handles more paperwork than any other department in an organization. GoCo offers an intuitive and entirely paperless platform for all your personnel management needs, so you’ll never have to shred a paper again.

And by allowing different systems to sync together, our paperless HR software solutions make personnel management far more effortless, allowing you to focus on core functions like training and development instead of data entry!

Talk to your company leadership about the huge benefits of going paperless:

  • Save money while you save trees through paperless HR solutions. Think of the money you needlessly spend on all that paper, not to mention mail, folders, sticky notes, file space, and all the other essentials of a paper-based system!
  • Make your HR department more productive, focused on people rather than paper.
  • Manage all your HR functions in one place, keeping you much better organized.
  • Protect yourself against damaged or lost files. By going paperless, HR can ensure that if a natural disaster happens, your records won’t be at risk. What filing cabinet on earth can do that?
  • Enhance collaboration, as employees can work together and share information digitally.
  • Let employees make changes on their own, via the electronic system, instead of having to process even simple changes through HR. That’s the level of convenience GoCo’s systems deliver.

Then take the following steps to get the ball rolling!

Utilize electronic signatures

We’ve all filled out a form on a computer only to find that we need to print it, sign it, and then scan it back in. These days, that’s no longer the case, thanks to the widespread use of electronic signatures.

It’s time for modern HR departments to jump on that bandwagon. Whether you choose a signature capture device (an electronic pad that you sign, like banks often have) or an even higher level of security, taking this step will simplify your life.

The use of electronic signatures is becoming more common in human resources as employers find themselves in situations where hard-copy signatures are not practical, such as rolling out handbooks for 1,000-plus employees or handling open enrollment for employees spread across the country,” says the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Here are a few methods of using electronic signatures, as described by Adobe:

  • Standard e-signatures, which are typically authenticated using a single method, like verification of access to an email.
  • Enhanced e-signatures, involving multi-factor authentication (such as access to email and receiving a PIN by phone).
  • A digital signature (which lets you sign using a private key, a code that only you have). A certificate authority or other supervisory body authenticates these signatures.

Whichever method you choose, set clear company policies on the use of electronic signatures. That way, you’ll encourage their widespread use by minimizing confusion and uncertainty.

“Since electronic signature laws vary from country to country, it’s a good idea to develop a corporate electronic signature policy that will work in all the countries where you do business,” says Adobe. “Before you begin to create your policy, it’s important to understand the various electronic signatures laws and how they may impact your use of e-signatures locally and internationally.”

There are two basic types of laws governing electronic signatures, Adobe explains: minimalist laws, which enforce few restrictions, and multi-tier laws, which are more comprehensive. Many countries, such as the U.S., have minimalist laws to simplify the use of electronic signatures, while other countries and regions, such as China and the European Union, have multi-tier laws. Those using stricter laws may require additional forms of digital authentication to accompany a signature, such as a pin or a password. The strictest regulations may require a digital signature.

Automate your recordkeeping

Paperless HR involves software solutions that automate many of your processes. Choosing the right system is one of the foundational steps to going paperless in your HR department. The right system makes all the difference, placing every piece of information at your fingertips. You can easily use a backup hard drive to store vital records for an extra level of security as well.

Some fear that going paperless involves certain risks, like being hacked. But the reality is that the business world has been headed away from paper-based systems for a long time. By choosing a quality system and adopting protective measures–for instance, encrypting sensitive data and establishing a protocol for mitigating any security breaches–you’ll help keep your records safe and secure.

Here are a few key steps to automate your recordkeeping system:

  • Audit your needs for automation so you’ll know which repetitive processes can be best managed by a paperless HR software system. For example, onboarding typically involves lots of paperwork and formalities. Managing onboarding through a paperless HR system can make sure nothing falls by the wayside.
  • Create a list of the categories your paperwork typically falls into (like compliance, benefits, payroll, and performance management), so you’ll know if a system covers all your bases.
  • Select a system that meets all those needs and, at the same time, limits access to sensitive information.
  • Work with IT professionals to ensure you have a robust plan for protecting sensitive data.

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GoCo’s modern HR solutions help making paperless recordkeeping simple. With an automated system that stores records electronically, we’ll help you shift away from a reliance on paper while streamlining processes like onboarding and managing employee benefits. And we’ll make recordkeeping easier, more reliable, and better organized!

Teach staff how to go paperless

Show staff how to navigate the elements of your automated system that they’ll need to access. A short training will show them how intuitive the system is and encourage them to use its features to make their jobs easier.

Share best practices on going paperless with each department, and mention the importance of sustainability and the role that going paperless plays in going green. Give them tips on choosing alternatives to paper. For instance, if they were going to give people a handout at a meeting, they could email a PDF file (which is mobile-friendly as well, so people can view it on their phones or tablets!).

Sharing these suggestions will make the transition more seamless.

Make using paper inconvenient

As Inc. suggests, make it a bigger hassle to use paper than to avoid using it. If you take away fax machines and printers, or make them less easy to access, you’ll minimize staff’s use of them.

But before you seize all the copy machines and lock them in a dark, hidden corner of the basement where few staff ever dare go, know that a smooth transition is key. Let staff know well in advance that their beloved printers, scanners, and copiers will be phased out. Help them understand how to handle common tasks in a paperless world. Then, everyone will soon be singing the praises of the paperless system, rather than feeling resentful of the change!

Strategically plan how to phase out these devices, too. Create a multi-phase plan that includes the following steps:

  • Discourage use of these devices while they’re still available.
  • Eliminate the least-used devices.
  • Offer access only to the devices that are truly essential. If you use those essential devices fairly infrequently, consider placing them in a more out-of-the-way location so you don’t unintentionally encourage staff to use them when they don’t need to, as Inc. advises.

Meanwhile, you can help staff create desktop setups that make it easier to navigate through documents on the electronic system.

For example, having a dual monitor can help them compare documents more easily, as Inc. adds. Having more screen space will make going paperless feel much easier, making people less likely to run for the printer.

By considering the real reasons why people turn to paper, other than force of habit, you can present solutions that work just as well, if not better, than paper itself.

Tell your service providers you’re going paperless

Contact your utilities, contractors, and other service providers, and tell them you’re going fully paperless. If you receive a bill in the mail from them next month, drop them a reminder to show you’re serious!

Encourage employees to do the same with the clients or contractors they deal with directly, so your whole office can maintain a united front against paper. Consider sending a department-wide (or company-wide) email advising people to take that step by a certain date.

And finally…

Don’t let the transition go unnoticed. Do something to publicly commemorate the shift to a paperless HR department, explaining why it’s important–for example, writing about it in a company e-newsletter. Emphasize that you want to save trees as well as money, and paperless HR solutions are an important step in going green. Mention that in your next email to your clients, encouraging them to use electronic communications. By emphasizing how going paperless benefits the planet, you’ll help get others on board. And you’ll brand yourself as a responsible company–which you are!

Save money, save trees, save headaches! After taking these steps, HR will have the freedom to focus on crucial responsibilities like staff engagement and retention, instead of recordkeeping and data entry. The only thing left to do will be remodeling your office space to take advantage of all that square footage that you’ve freed from the filing cabinets!

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