Why Strategic HR Document Management is Vital to HR Digital Transformation

The abolition of tribunal fees last year has seen claim levels soar, and new GDPR rules give HR even more to worry about.  David Bryce, managing director at Cleardata, explains why employers need to embrace strategic management of HR documents and how a digital system can help.

Employer Tribunals on the rise

In 2017, the number of employment tribunal cases rose by two thirds after the Supreme Court ruled that employees would not be charged for bringing cases against their employer. Just months later supermarket giant, WM Morrison, was put in the spotlight after it was reported that a former employee leaked confidential payroll information of around 100,000 employees. As a result, the High Court allowed a compensation claim from over 5,500 present and former employees and ruled that Morrisons was legally responsible for the leak.

This rise in employment tribunals is just one of the many reasons why HR departments need to turn their attention to how they manage the multitude of employees’ personal records and data. Employers need to be prepared to quickly access documents that could be years old or perform data analysis to identify any potential legal risks.

With GDPR to contend with now too, it’s more crucial than ever that accurate historical employee records are needed for legal reasons. Failure to find the required paperwork or evidence on time can result in significant payments and fines. To mitigate the risk, businesses need to ensure they have an effective document management strategy in place, with digitised documents, effective indexing/categorisation and secure archiving.

Although any potential legal action should not be the main motivator behind HR data housekeeping efforts, businesses need to be especially vigilant. These legislative developments highlight just how important a sound HR records management strategy is, and how wider HR operations can benefit as a result. For HR teams working towards a digital HR environment, there are a number of considerations when building or revisiting your strategy, including the management of employee data requests, use of robotics, internal recruitment opportunities and holistic data analysis.

GDPR and Employee data indexing

New regulation under GDPR allows current and former employees to request to see the data being held about them at any time. It’s vital that any such requests are responded to within one month and the data must be provided free of charge and in the requested format. This means that all data of both past and present employees must be easily discoverable and accessible. It’s also possible that a previous employee may request for their data to be deleted from record, in which case, documents need to be indexed by type as well as employee so individual records can be retained whilst others are erased.

Cleardata recently digitised over 100,000 employee records for NHS and social care services organisation, Virgin Care. The records were securely uploaded to a cloud document management system to allow authorised members of staff from multiple locations to gain access to files in a secure and GDPR-compliant way. Outsourcing the service has helped Virgin Care’s HR department become more productive and able to find required documentation quickly, without having to sort through physical paperwork stores.

Digital HR – Embrace robotics and technology

HR departments are driving their organisations to become more digital across the board, with many staff needing to be reskilled to transform the way they work. A survey by Deloitte found that 33% of HR teams are now using some form of artificial intelligence technology to deliver HR solutions.

Robotic process automation (RPA) as a new concept can initially sound a little daunting, but it’s not as futuristic as it sounds. Another piece of research by Deloitte found that 70% of organisations were already using RPA and 66% said they were expanding their use. RPA records tedious manual processes – for example, inputting data from paper to a system – and performs them automatically in just a few seconds. Effective RPA is reliant on documents and data being digitally discoverable, so digital indexing and data capture would need to be in place prior to its implementation. Once up and running, RPA can be useful for a multiplicity of HR tasks including the recruitment process; automating document, ID validation and employee onboarding amongst other time-consuming tasks. This can help to improve productivity by freeing up employee time whilst reducing the likelihood of human error. And contrary to popular belief, RPA is a cloud-hosted solution, so it doesn’t involve a team of robots occupying desks in your office!

Analytical insight for talent planning

Finding and retaining great talent is a challenge that every HR manager will know all too well. Many businesses prefer to train existing employees to fill vacancies rather than competing for external candidates. Larger businesses recruiting internally need to analyse lots of different information to uncover these opportunities; they need a clear view of the candidates and their skillsets, employment history and assessments. This process can be complex and time-consuming, involving many employee records stored in different places. Pooling this information can simplify the process, and with effective indexing and digitisation, you can view the required information and identify the perfect candidate more easily.

Finding the root of employee dissatisfaction

It’s important to get a true picture of what’s happening within an organisation to effectively measure and manage employee satisfaction and retention. For this purpose, employee surveys often aren’t enough. However, a holistic analysis of employee records, such as exit interviews, tenure in different business functions, role and locations and absenteeism records, can help to pin down the real issues. This broad range of information is likely to be held in multiple formats and gathering and processing these can be an overwhelming task, but digitising records data can speed this up considerably. Quick and simple access to this information is invaluable for HR and can help identify any engagement issues as they happen through real-time analytics.

With new legislation to abide by, significant penalties for non-compliance and a long list of best practice to follow, it’s perhaps not surprising that many businesses feel wary. However, these changes provide a good opportunity to readdress document management practices and assess where digitising the process can improve talent management, enable better insight and boost productivity in your business. Download Cleardata’s HR whitepaper for more information.