GUIDE 2024

HR Document Management Best Practices 2024

HR document management best practices are a collection of human resources organization processes that work at a universal level. No matter what technological systems and related tools you have for managing records, without these best practices in place, chances are the processes you implement to handle the life cycle of your documentation will go other than planned.

Human resources document management includes managing company policies and employee documents to ensure the storage of records, controlled access to documents, and on-time disposal of obsolete files. It also protects sensitive data, boosts administrative efficiency, and protects companies from risk.

Best Practices for HR Document Management

HR document management best practices

Documents are the driving force of any company. They have a significant impact on the future and development of a business. However, due to the excessive volume of data, managing paper, and digital documents can become challenging for the HR teams. So, in this post, we’ll discuss many best practices for HR records management.

Organize HR Records

Office employees spend a good chunk of their time looking for information, preventing them from doing their actual tasks. This has many negative consequences for employee development and welfare. When analyzed with worker sentiment, the feeling that employees are working longer hours and are making limited progress starts to make sense. This is why HR document organization is paramount in today’s office environment.

One of the simplest ways for organizing your HR records is to create separate files for specific categories within each employee’s file. We recommend files for each of the following:

  • Employee Files (including application, verification, onboarding new employees, employee record information, employment contracts, performance reviews, compensation records, unemployment records, and I-9s)
  • Recruiting Files (anything about interview notes, job descriptions, resumes, and pre-employment testing results)
  • Personnel Records (employee handbook, personnel files, agreements, policy changes, or defined HR policies)
  • Training Materials (resources related to employee training programs)
  • Payroll Records (attendance records, timesheets, and tax forms)
  • Benefit Files (information about plans and enrollment documents)
  • Leave Files (requests to get paid time off or paid parental leave)
  • Security and Accident Reports (paperwork detailing medical information, staff compensation, and incident reports)

Organizing HR documents into their respective files enables employees to search and access the information they need in an efficient manner, which saves your department much time and needless frustration.

Use the Local Document Shredding Service

While your office produces limited records every month, unlike other organizations, chances are, you still deal with day-to-day HR documents, such as offer letters, new employee documents, employment agreements, employee personnel files, employee medical records, employee handbook, statutory documents, etc. When a single or multiple documents reach their retention end date, you will need to determine the proper destruction procedures.

If the files are physical, you should get the help of a professional document shredding service in your area instead of spending valuable time shredding documents yourself with the office shredder. The peace of mind and efficiency of the professional document destruction supplier is immeasurable, which allows you to shift focus to important operations from tedious tasks. The document shredding service provider can place a shred console in the office for easy, quick, and safe disposal of paper records.

Benefit From Digital Document Management

According to estimates, a typical employee spends 130 hours on an annual basis to perform unimportant tasks. It indicates that if a company has 100 employees, this could waste thousands of hours every year. One of the best HR document management practices to integrate into your routine is a practice that cuts out wasted time. Find out every activity that you can get automated.

Digital technology makes HR document management easier by enabling employees to store, manage, and route documents online. It is capable of automating different tasks, leveraging workflows, and obtaining data for repositories and alerts. For example, if you use a document scanning service, indexing documents by any key identifier will help staff search for information throughout the life of that record. With automation, businesses can manage documents and collect records. It also helps redirect different documents to the right members of the organization.

There are various software options available for companies of all sizes that are cost-efficient and can get the job done. Here are the top five HR document management solutions available in the market:

1. eFileCabinet


eFileCabinet is a secure document management solution to ensure your HR compliance with government and corporate rules. It is known for offering both on-premise and cloud document management software for better file organization.

  • Secure sharing for files of any size
  • OCR for quick searching through documents
  • Audit tracking and role-based user permissions
  • Detailed document history reports
  • Collaboration tools to handle HR document storage on an enterprise-level
  • Accessible by desktop app or browser
  • Training and in-app help resources

2. DocuPhase


DocuPhase is a useful document management system for HR-related accounting files due to its heavy focus on accounting processes. The automation tool provides different features to simplify digital filing and employee data management.

  • Makes accounting and other forms
  • Drag-and-drop documents in workflows
  • Document organization in a central location
  • Advanced search and accessibility features
  • Stores sensitive data with advanced security protocols
  • OCR capabilities support data extraction from documents and emails
  • Dedicated data center support staff

3. DynaFile



DynaFile is a great option for scanning automation and file recognition. It is known for digital filing and management. The cloud-based file management of this system enables your team to access important information from anywhere, anytime.

  • Online access and management of employee files
  • Scan paper employee records and convert them into electronic files
  • Batch process paper documents
  • Control access to certain sections of employee files
  • Encrypted document links to share files with staff and auditors

4. ZoHo


It is a great choice if you want a document management solution to create, share, and collaborate on employee documents. The HR managers, with its two major functions of document storage and editing, can decrease the amount of paperwork and organize online files in a centralized vault.

  • Store and preview all types of files online
  • Share files within or outside the company
  • Edit documents online
  • Import files from other storage applications
  • Sync offline documents online

5. PeopleDoc


It is another great human resources document management software with all the features HR departments look for. PeopleDoc is one of the most-used solutions by large enterprises due to its effectiveness. The software offers management services to help simplify HR operations. It is known for managing documents, streamlining compliance, and providing retention schedules.

  • Cloud storage integration for keeping human resource documents secure in a single repository
  • HR global service delivery and services operation automation with advanced tools
  • Advanced searches using multiple criteria
  • Keeps documents under litigation hold

Use Your Document Management System

Increasing efficiency is the main reason that there are document management best practices in the first place. If your team is unable to use your system in an effective manner, it will get in the way. You can ensure that your team is comfortable using your document management system if it is usable. An HR document management system may improve efficiency if it is easy to use.

Promote Product Adoption

An organization choosing to implement a new document management process takes the involvement of the entire team. It is insufficient to just say that you are adopting a new methodology or a solution – organizations must champion it. An integral part of effective implementation is to utilize all educational resources available to the team. Are there any webinar tutorials or eBooks? You should ensure that your investment into a solution provides access to helpful information for executing a new system. In addition to talking about the challenges your team faces during a software migration, you should also make a consistent and cohesive effort to train and support team members.

Provide Mobile Access

In today’s world, many people work on their phones, whether they are reading, sharing, or signing a document. So, accessing and sharing documents on a mobile device is an actual time-saver. With no accessible document management system, employees have to wait until they are in the office or using their computers again. Besides wasting time and increasing approval times, this also worsens versioning issues. Best practices involve quick document retrieval while also meeting staff’s needs wherever they work from.

Considering the mobile workforce, you need an application that is flexible enough to meet the needs of remote HR workers. They can manage HR documents from anywhere, without working at their desks or being connected to the internal network. Add information on the system, so they can do their jobs with ease.

Refrain From Abandoning Paperwork

It is important to ensure that you still use paper. The use of paper everywhere has decreased, but it is still a factor for many businesses. According to a survey conducted on HR professionals, about 73% of them still rely on paper to manage documents. In addition, 82% of those who responded to a recent Harris Poll conducted said that paper-based workflows will stay in use for at least the next decade.

This indicates that many organizations work in hybrid environments where paper and digital documents coexist. You need to ensure your technology can ingest documents that have begun as paper. Your digital document management solution is easier and inexpensive to use to add records.

Determine a Retention Policy

Document management professionals recommend that organizations should implement a retention procedure as part of their record-keeping plan – no matter if it is for hard copy records, electronic records, or both. Without an established document retention policy, it is quite impossible to manage employee documents in an efficient way throughout their mandatory lifespan. Many a time, most organizations hold onto HR documents for much longer than required, resulting in additional storage costs, document loss, and overall derangement.

When setting retention parameters, here are some questions to consider:

  • What are the most common forms of records the HR team produces?
  • What are the retention guidelines for the employee records in your industry and location?
  • Which HR documents should you keep under which laws?
  • For how long records are active in general, and who interacts with those records?
  • For how long can you keep the records?
  • What events would activate archiving or destruction of documents?
  • Which documents are now past due for disposal?

You need to assign expiration dates and trigger events for your employee documents. Triggers are events that begin the expiration clock ticking on records. For instance, senior HR staff will get access to the employee’s file for up to seven years after the termination date. They will keep the documents for seven years after termination in the last employing department. And, after seven years, the staff will discard those records. Here, termination is the trigger for such documents.

The record retention policy aims to reduce future risk by controlling the number of inactive records stored in the cloud or onsite. Such policies improve compliance, keep employees organized, minimize overhead costs, and ensure long-term data security. However, it is important to put a policy in place with your business making a monitoring process to destroy and archive the records once the maturity reaches.

With an intuitive human resources document management solution, companies can scan documents and save them onto their platform. Companies can use programs to obtain these documents and store data through workflows customized to their unique requirements. Employee file management solutions also help create internal rules that retain documents for a specific time frame and then route them out of the system when their expiration arrives.

Improve Workflows

Workflows, combined with notifications, are of great help. Your system should help the HR team increase their efficiency. For addressing any issues on time, the system should route the documents for approval or review itself and generate real-time notifications. You must ensure that your workflows are configurable and are for all the documents. In addition, workflows help give visibility over certifications. Many companies maintain certification requirements for their employees, which they have to record and update over time. This may include OSHA certifications, ServSafe certifications, or HIPAA compliance certifications. With the help of a system, you can make sure no one is out of compliance by setting reminders for certifications expiring in a specific period.

Implement a Security Policy

Records management gets out of hand as many companies are growing at a quick pace and producing a lot of confidential paperwork, leading to an increasing number of internal and external data security threats. If this happens, companies can get held accountable for any transgressions. So, it is important for every organization to take security in a considered manner by tying security permissions to all documents that have any sensitive information.

Implement role-based security access to restrict unauthorized users from accessing, sharing, or destroying any important records. System administrators of the document management system (which are HR executives in most cases) can customize who can see what within the system and who can download which files. It ensures just authorized employees have access to private information. This can include HR records, payroll documents, contracts, and so on. This feature helps HR managers meet OSHA certification standards.

Also, develop a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that outlines how employees can share documents, handle client information, and what they can download and send on personal devices. Invest in a solution that tracks activity, version changes to documents, approvals, and routing, so in the event of audits, you have a reliable audit trail of all records management. For file routing containing sensitive information, consider using SFTP or email encryption.

Ensure Regulatory Compliance

It is a critical priority for every HR department to ensure compliance of employee records with legal requirements. Legal compliance is a driver, according to Gartner, for moving to a digital solution. However, complying with new complex government regulations and business policies causes problems to HR professionals. 

  • Are you retaining documents as per the government and corporate rules and regulations?
  • Does every personnel file have all the required documents?
  • Are records up to date?
  • Can you remain proactive in addressing the issues before they become problems?

Make sure you choose a solution with features that help you answer Yes to these questions.

Carry out a Thorough Audit

Auditing shares a direct connection with document management. It refers to the thorough assessment or inspection of the records. The audit ensures that everything is working out or progressing as planned. So, conduct an audit (internal and external) to make sure everything is coming along as needed in terms of HR document management. In truth, proper documentation management can also help with the business audit since it increases the accessibility to the needed documentation. Also, it makes workflow transparent and traceable for the auditors.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are thinking about how to implement digital document management for your company or just to enhance your existing system, focusing on the fundamentals and defining your objectives helps ensure success. Get a head start by following these best practices, and maintain your document management directory in a convenient and smooth manner.

Josh Fechter
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He had his first job in technical writing for a video editing software company in 2014. Since then, he has written several books on software documentation, personal branding, and computer hacking. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.