Piles of papers seem far from interesting or empowering. Yet when run properly, documentation in the HR department can be rocket fuel for all processes in the company.
Running documents appear dull and repetitive work that drags the HR team from the actual “work” to do. One should source candidates or onboard new members of the team instead of adding some sheets to the endless pile of paper.
Yet the harsh reality of HR operations shows that documents come as a backbone of every process and can either be the rocket fuel or a thorn in the side.
The key goal of keeping the documentation and doing all the paperwork in HR is to ensure that all parties are on the same page (pardon the pun). By “all parties” one can mean the employee, the employer, and sometimes the state administration or the customers.
Having the documentation is a clear sign that a particular agreement has been done.
The properly prepared documentation includes not only the agreement but also procedures to follow in a situation of conflict or misunderstanding. There is no need to include the full procedure in every single document, yet showing a direction where the procedure can be found is a good practice.
Also, HR documentation is about making all the agreements and processes transparent for every party. One needs to assume that sooner or later a third party may inspect the documents or ask questions. Having properly documented HR processes can save a lot of stress and effort. And sometimes – a good deal of money.
Types of documentation
“Documentation” is a broad term that describes nearly nothing. Both the medical records and anonymous feedback are in fact HR documentation. To make the situation even more complicated, HR processes medical documentation and tons of sensitive data. Last but not least.
But it doesn’t mean that all types of documentation need to be approached in the same manner.
Formal vs. informal
Formal documentation includes all the papers the company needs to store and process due to legal reasons and may face consequences due to lack of it. This includes contracts, formal leave requests, and information about disabilities. Depending on the legislature, this list is far from complete and there may be dozens of other documents to include – from timetables and logs to formal agreements regarding the over-hours.
The informal documentation constitutes all things that are needed in HR, yet the company is not threatened by fines or legal consequences if the documentation is stored improperly or sometimes not stored at all. This includes all feedback, meeting notes, one-on-one meeting key takeaways, emailing history regarding the pay rise, or anything else one can store regarding employment.
HR-related documentation role
There are multiple types of HR documentation, containing multiple types of data. Yet these are created to support various goals of the HR department, that ultimately contribute to the overall company performance.
Contracts of employment
One of the most basic types of documents in human resources, these deliver the written agreement about the rules both parties are willing to cooperate on. The contract is always the most basic and comprehensive source of information regarding employee-employer relations and is the core of all employee documentation.
An employee offer letter is a final step that separates the candidate from the employee. The offer letter is sent after the candidate has accepted the verbal offer from the company and the paperwork needs to be done. Depending on the company’s customs and the level of formality. Yet considering personal data and potentially classified information, these need to be considered the HR documentation.
It is common for companies to conduct a regular employee experience survey, aiming to spot the first signs of tension in the team. Surveys can be both anonymous or signed, with varying degrees of information shared. Depending on the survey’s questions, it can be either plain and risk-free or full of sensitive data. And by that, the employee survey is undoubtedly a piece of HR documentation.
The information about how the employee thinks about the company may contain multiple sensitive information. But the information on how the company thinks about the employee is completely different. It contains full information about the quality of one’s work, the strengths, weaknesses, general opinion, and multiple other details. By that, this document needs to be protected and properly stored.
Onboarding is one of the key goals of HR which can be supported using various types of documents. Properly done onboarding reduces the time the employee needs to be fully immersed in the company and start being productive and contribute to the overall growth. According to Urbanbound, 77% of employees who went through a formal onboarding process have achieved their KPIs.
Measuring performance is another way HR contributes to the overall company performance. While collecting the metrics remains the job of supervisors, the HR dept comes as the place where the employee's performance and contribution are measured holistically and comprehensively. This requires a good set of documentation as well as the tools that make them accessible.
Attendance appears to be the metric that is easy to measure and that’s true – it appears so. Without a stockpile of documents measuring the actual attendance of the employees can be a challenge impossible to overcome.
Schedules – contain the information on the planned employee attendance and need to be stored for future reference
Time tables – store the data about one’s real working time. Some jurisdictions make storing them obligatory and a basis of payment. Having at least these two mentioned above gives the company a full and unbiased view of one's attendance and habits.
Compliance with internal policy
Last but not least, every company has multiple internal procedures to follow, and having them listed is the only reliable and compliant way to have them followed and not become dead over time.
Depending on the type of the internal policy, the documents supporting it can vary and be either the way to spot the early signs of abuse or burnout or ensure the following of the rules. An internal employee satisfaction survey, for example, can be considered an effective way to reduce employee turnover.
Sickness, disability, and maternity documentation
Intuitively, medical documentation shouldn’t be a major issue if the company is not operating in the healthcare sector. That’s a hard truth – every document that contains information about one’s health can be considered medical documentation. These include:
Depending on the labor laws in the country the company operates, there are various regulations regarding sick leaves and the types of documentation the employer may ask for. For example, in the UK, the employee may decide to deliver the full note from the doctor, including the details about his or her condition and the length of the sickness, to help the employer adjust the workplace to one’s needs.
Maternity leave can also be considered clear information about one’s physical condition. On the other hand, the employee has no right to refuse leave. Also, depending on the legal framework there are various privileges and levels of protections granted to a person on maternity leave.
Accommodation of a disability
There also are multiple legal and organizational incentives for hiring disabled people. Yet if the business owner decides to hire one, there is a significant amount of paperwork to do around that – and this includes multiple papers and statements from physicians regarding the type of work one can perform.
According to the Kessler Foundation, no more than 33.1 percent of people with disabilities are working in the US – this number could have increased if employers were better prepared to hire people with various disabilities.
Reasons to keep HR documents
Each HR document serves a particular purpose in a defined process in the company. Yet on a higher level, there are greater purposes, the Human Resources department needs documents. And they influence all the aspects of the company’s operations.
First and foremost, there is a large group of HR documents that are required by the state administration to be kept. Depending on the legal framework the company operates in, this may include the proof that the social security has been paid or the logging of working hours, to ensure the fair payment for the job delivered.
Depending on the data kept in the company, there are various norms the company needs to adhere to while keeping compliance, and mitigating various risks by choosing a reliable tech partner is vital.
Having all procedures written and codified instead of relying on gut feeling makes the company operate in a more professional manner. These documents are points of reference for everybody interested, be that the employee, the supervisor, or the member of a state administration who needs to conduct some kind of investigation.
It is generally a good practice to run the documentation in a way that makes it possible to be shown to someone from outside of the organization at any time. This makes the process more efficient and ensures that documents are legible and organized in an accessible way.
An organized and accessible documentation system in the HR department makes multiple business processes more smooth and more efficient. While this rarely applies to the technological, development, or production processes, HR work is easier.
This includes keeping the employees happy, gathering and providing feedback, launching new hiring campaigns, onboarding new employees, and processing leave requests among others.
Effective HR delivers an immense boost to the overall company productivity and supports the company in basically any field by providing new talents to the available talent pool. For example, the team can focus on hiring – an average job vacancy costs businesses $98 per day – and if the HR team has no procedures to follow and documents for guidance, these costs stack up with the process getting lengthy.
Having clear and organized documentation delivers a great level of transparency company-wide. Documents reduce the shades between what is and what’s not allowed in the company as well as deliver a clear picture of any agreement or policy made.
Also, the documentation is fair and unbiased, and that provides the company with a single source of truth regarding what to do in conflict situations. Shifting from arbitrary decisions to structured rules anyone can stick to is a great way to build a culture of transparency and fairness, with anyone being seen as equal.
Human Resources relies on soft and interpersonal skills in their daily operations. Yet behind the human approach and conciliarism, there is a strong need to build stable and reliable rules to adhere to. Having an organized and actionable documentation system filled with knowledge and procedures that make life easier comes as great support for the HR department. And by that, to the whole company. By that, the importance of documentation should never be underestimated.
If you wish to talk more about the ways the company benefits from using the documentation in daily HR operations, don’t hesitate to contact us now!