Your Guide to HR Document Management

January 16, 2024

Looking to overhaul your HR paperwork practices? Digital document management is here to clean out your filing cabinets. Discover the benefits of this paperless approach in our easy guide.

As an HR professional, managing all the necessary paperwork can be a living nightmare. Towering file cabinets. Endless manilla folders. And papercuts — ouch!

If this strikes too close to home, it’s time for your organization to wake up and modernize its document-managing practices.

On the face of it, the answer seems simple: store HR documents in a safe and accessible place. But when you consider the scale of HR documentation (everything from employee enrollment to workplace events), the difficulty of the task compounds. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the ins and out of digital document management, helping turn your HR nightmare into paperless bliss. 

What is Digital HR Document Management?

Digital HR document management digitizes every aspect of your document library. Wave goodbye to unorganized filing cabinets. Instead, everything is stored in a centralized cloud-based location where HR professionals can:

  • Store important employment events (e.g., resumes, performance reviews, acknowledgement documentation)
  • Control access to sensitive files
  • Organize and tags documents in a searchable database

But digital document management offers a host of benefits for you and your organization beyond just centralization. Let’s explore.

What Are the Benefits Digital HR Document Management?

HR document management solutions are more than just a slick interface with a search bar. The benefits can have a ripple effect across your entire organization.

Smoother and More Reliable Processes

Keeping physical copies of documents seems like an easy solution but can quickly become more trouble than it’s worth.

And as HR documents start to pile up this problem only becomes worse. Paperwork can easily get lost or put in the wrong place, leaving you empty-handed when you need quick access.

With a digital HR document management system, situations like these are less likely to arise. Every file is just a few clicks away.

And if your document management system is a part of an all-in-one HR solution, you can even integrate documents into automated HR workflows. Easily prompt the capture and storage of necessary files for common tasks.

Ensure Compliance and Security

Certain federal and state laws specifically require the storage of employee documents, especially if they contain sensitive information. Not only do manual filing systems risk misplaced documents, they also pose a security risk.

Compliance isn’t something you want to take chances with, and the right document management system is a check to ensure those requirements are met.

As an added security measure, most digital document storage solutions allow for access configurations based on role. This allows you to prevent unauthorized users from viewing sensitive documents.

Better Preparation for Physical Disasters

You can’t predict disasters. They happen — and sometimes with devastating consequences. If there’s a large fire in your office and you don’t have backup copies of your documents elsewhere, you’re sunk. 

Having digital copies stored in the cloud helps to reduce that risk of loss. Even against virtual disasters, such as a server crash. Cloud servers are backed up across multiple locations, so if one goes down, another kicks in.

Legal Safeguards

In addition to federal compliance lawsuits, audits, and other legal proceedings will require quick access to documents.

As we’ve explored, manually getting the documents you need can be tricky. A document management system helps you stay prepared for any potential legal action.

Advanced Search Capabilities

Due to its analog nature, you can’t make use of metadata (i.e., assigned data that provides contextual information about a file) with printed documents. Fortunately, metadata is table stakes in the best digital document storage.

For example, a simple search query can pull up all employee I-9s in seconds, drastically reducing the amount of time an HR professional spends digging through cabinets.

Or perhaps you need a certain group of employees to complete a training or sign a disclosure document. You can create a query that segments the required employees and identifies which ones haven’t completed the requirement. Easy!

Example of document search functionality within Paylocity

Boosted Productivity

Manual HR document management can slow the productivity of your business in many ways. Onboarding and offboarding is more tedious to track. Tax and payroll documents take longer to fill out or change — the list goes on.

With a digital library that keeps track of requirements and provides easy-entry fields for forms, you can avoid many of these issues. Instead, you have near-instant access to the files you need, allowing you to complete more tasks in a fraction of the time.

Saved Space

Let’s not forget the space saved by not needing so many filing cabinets. Not only are these expensive, but they also clutter up your office.

And let’s be frank — filing cabinets and drawers aren’t exactly compatible with a streamlined modern office environment.

What Records Are Included in a Digital HR Document Manager?

Digital document managers can easily meet that challenge by covering several file types, including:

  • Hiring records: Files relating to the intake of new employees. This includes onboarding forms, contracts, and any supporting documents.
  • Payroll records: Files ranging from time sheets to paystubs to tax returns.
  • Training records: Any materials needed to facilitate training, as well as records of completed training. 
  • Disability records: All documents that relate to employees with disabilities and the accommodations made for them.
  • Recruitment documents: Archives of documents involved in the recruitment process (e.g., job postings, applications, submitted resumes, etc.).
  • Personnel records: Documents relating to different aspects of an employee's role(s), tenure, performance, etc.
  • Safety documents: Reports on any aspects of safety in the workplace. This could include accident reports, worker’s compensation requests, and safety assessments.
  • Leave records: Any files relating to employee turnover, such as exit interviews.

The best document management solutions will be integrated with an all-in-one human resources information system (HRIS), that automatically captures necessary documentation when you need it.

Paylocity’s Document Library integrates with key moments in the employee journey, so pertinent documents are stored right in the employee record.

8 HR Document Management Best Practices

Follow these best practices to make the most of your document management software.

  • Controlled access: Protection of sensitive information should be one of your top concerns.  Thus, access to sensitive documents should be strictly on a ‘need to know’ basis.
  • Set deletion procedures: There are laws that regulate how long you can hold on to personal data. To avoid legal issues, have a procedure for deleting data in a timely fashion.
  • Keep some physical records: Despite everything covered to this point, keeping printed copies of some important records can still hold value.  If there’s ever a power outage or your internet goes down, having a physical copy of only the most important files guarantees you still have access to them.
  • Name documents carefully: To find files quickly, you’ll need to rely on your document management system’s search function. That’s why it's important to use a logical, scalable naming convention. Having a clear system for everyone to follow will keep everyone on the same page.
  • Offer training: Switching to a digitized version of HR document management offers many benefits, but can also come with a learning curve. Give teams plenty of support (e.g., guided workshops, downloadable resources, etc.) so they can quickly and comfortably get to grips with the new system.
  • Have a clear set of expectations: Create and share a set of standards for how the documents and library should be used. Emphasize proper etiquette and the importance of confidentiality.
  • Mobile access: For the greatest amount of flexibility, make sure mobile access is embedded into your document management software.

What to Look for in A Digital Document Management System

As great as digital document management systems are, not just any one will do. Modern organizations need document management software that supports modern human resource management.

Compliance Features

You’d never cut corners when it comes to things like regulatory compliance or privacy standards, so neither should your document management software.

Pick a system that sends regular compliance reminders when documents are up for renewal and provides options for quick refreshes.

Bulk Uploads

Avoid having to upload each HR document one at a time by investing in a platform that allows you to upload multiple documents all at once. 

Access Control

To guarantee your documents are protected and secure, look for software that uses roles-based permission settings. This way, you can guarantee only the right people are accessing documents at any given time.

Workflow Integrations

Administrative or rote tasks are usually the biggest offenders when it comes to generating paperwork. Employment eligibility verification, performance reviews, and onboarding documents all require the same set of tasks and paperwork. And over the years, these documents can really add up.

Thankfully, these tasks can be automated, including collecting, digitizing, and storing these documents. Look for a document management solution that works alongside your other HR tools and workflows to minimize manual uploading where you can.

Automate Your Document Management with HR Software

Digital HR document management is the solution to the overwhelming paperwork that plagues HR professionals. By embracing a paperless approach, you can streamline processes, ensure compliance and security, be prepared for disasters, and boost productivity.

Paylocity's HR document library solution is integrated with the all-in-one HR & Payroll, so uploading and managing documents is easy, no matter what you're working on. Break away from filing cabinets with features like:

  • Searchable, taggable database for easy searching and bulk uploading.
  • Gather digital signatures and minimize physical paperwork.
  • Customizable workflows for streamlined document collection.
  • Role-based permission settings for secure document storage.

Request a demo today to see how Paylocity helps organizations build a more organized and modern HR department.


Take the Edge Off Your HR Team 

Partner with someone that “gets it.” Our HR Edge program gives you the extra boost to rise above the competition. From consulting needs about the latest legislation to crafting eye-catching job descriptions, HR Edge is your back-pocket tool to success. Find out how the day-to-day assistance of HR Edge keeps you compliant and helps you attract and retain top talent – without draining your resources.

Get HR Consulting