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Is your organization still using paper personnel files?  If so, stop!  In this day and age of advanced technology, electronic personnel files only make sense.  You don’t need to buy an expensive HRIS system either.  I haven’t used paper personnel files (or any paper files for that matter) since 2004, and for most of that time I didn’t use an HRIS system.  I set up space on a secure HR shared drive at my organization.

What are the benefits of electronic files?

  1. You can quickly find and forward specific forms or documents to managers, payroll providers, or others without searching through a bunch of paper.
  2. It’s easier to keep filing up to date.
  3. If you, or others, are working remotely, you still have access to files.
  4. All HR team members easily share information without looking for “that paper” which could be hidden on someone’s desk or in a stack to be filed away.
  5. Your organization will realize significantly lower costs: onsite and offsite storage, no folder purchases, and fewer staples.
  6. No paper cuts!
  7. Less paper and less storage are better for the environment.

Moving to electronic files doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process.  The easiest way to get started is to set up electronic files for new employees first, then figure out what to do with current employee files.

 Here are my suggestions to get started:

  1. Establish a goal and set a schedule to scan in the current employees.  If you have 100 employees, for example, scan in 10 per week for 10 weeks or hire a temp to get it completed quickly.  You may decide now is the right time to do a file audit.
  2. If you have large files a) clean them out and/or b) scan them in bulk in this way: put all benefit information in one folder or scan in all paperwork prior to 2013 in one folder and then more current information into the proper subfolders.
  3. Remove all terminated employees from your current files; box them up or, better yet, send them off to a scanner services and scan them into folders determined by year of termination.
  4. Make sure I-9s are kept in a separate file, but they can also be scanned.  You are required to keep I-9s for 1 year after termination or 3 years after date of hire – whichever timeframe is longer.
  5. When you’ve established a system for managing your electronic files, scan each document separately into suggested sub folders for benefits, new hire paperwork, performance reviews, compensation and payroll tax forms, and other.

Transferring to electronic personnel files is an easy process to start and doesn’t have to include an expensive system.  Use the tools and IT structure your organization already has in place and make the change now!

JoDee Curtis
JoDee Curtis
JoDee Curtis is the Founder of Purple Ink, Powered by Purple Ink, and the ink pad, author of four books in the JoyPowered® series, and co-host of The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast. She has a passion for helping organizations and individuals discover their talents, do more of what they do well through her speaking and training, and find joy in their work.

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