Document Management Briefing: HR Records: Your Cool, New Strategic Tool

Are current economic conditions compelling your human resources department to optimize its recruitment processes—while also contributing more to your firm’s bottom-line savings? You can tackle these goals by treating your employee records and transactions as strategic tools.

The Five Most Common HR Challenges

Which of these are you currently facing?

  • Ensuring the chain of custody of and access to highly sensitive records
  • Maintaining accurate, current files for audit and compliance purposes
  • Grappling with impeded access and other inefficiencies of distributed information
  • Creating and maintaining a disaster recovery plan
  • Keeping highly confidential records private and secure

The Strategy: HR = Rock Stars

As economic uncertainties persist, Human Resources departments are gaining greater visibility than ever by helping their companies contain costs—often as workforces dwindle. But an avalanche of mostly paper-based records can hamper an HR department’s efficiency.

One critical component of containing costs within the HR department is a solid recruiting process. Matching the right candidates with the right positions saves valuable training time, or, in a worst-case scenario, the costs of replacing a failed new hire.

HR departments must also keep detailed employee records. The average file contains 29 pages of paper—everything from job applications and offer letters to benefit plans and performance reviews. Companies and their HR departments must also manage the cost of maintaining these and other records. Consider this: A 10,000-employee company generates and accommodates more than a million employee-related transactions annually, with each costing between $10-$50.*

Of course, these files are useless if HR and other staff can’t access them. That’s why organizing, indexing and storing information affords HR a new level of strategic control over its records.

HR Departments Face an Uphill Climb

Before an HR department can achieve this strategic information advantage, it faces significant challenges. For example, most groups are buried in paper files spread across their organizations. What’s more, aging hardware and software systems hamper evolution—a scenario all too familiar to the HR management at a worldwide information technology company. The company had been storing HR records on microfiche for decades. But its aging equipment simply couldn’t handle the deluge of records that was only increasing with a generation of Baby Boomer employees starting to retire. Broken hardware added to long response times—up to days in some cases.

As if these aren’t sufficiently challenging issues, keep these points in mind:

  • HR departments must also grapple with the records retention requirements of state and federal regulations such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Equal Pay Act (EPA).
  • Discovery rules dictate that companies maintain certain records on legal hold until their related dispositions are complete.
  • A great deal of HR information falls under HIPAA’s privacy regulations. Therefore, companies must make information usable and accessible, while also protecting it.
  • Mergers and acquisitions and the inherent expansion of globalization have further stressed HR’s records management infrastructures.

The Hybrid Way: Manage Costs, Aid Best Practices, Play Guitar

HR departments seeking efficiency can move all of their paper to digital files and centralize their records. But this all adds up, as one global financial institution discovered. The firm instead embarked on a 60-day pilot to test drive a hybrid records-management approach, using both paper and digital files to facilitate its new HR strategy.

Adopting a hybrid solution HR will reduce costs, boost productivity and support the kind of standardized business practices that help companies thrive. But they can’t do it alone. A growing numbers of firms have turned to outside vendors—experts who have already made investments in technology and amassed expertise—to build and execute a hybrid records management strategy that can help HR meet its goals.

Regardless of the means you employ to achieve HR records efficiencies, you’re bound to finish in a much better place than where you started—and perhaps become a guitar-strumming corporate rock star in the process.

Iron Mountain Suggests: Five Steps to Greater HR Efficiency

  1. Reduce Paper. Too much paper simply wastes time and money.
  2. Take a Hybrid Approach. While there are great benefits of going completely digital, that’s unrealistic and/or impractical for most companies. Storing inactive files in paper or microfiche form while digitizing more-requested files provides many similar benefits at a lower cost.
  3. Join with a Trusted Partner. A partner with expertise and an investment in digital technology and storage facilities can help HR meet its goals faster and more efficiently.
  4. Conduct a Pilot Program. A limited-run pilot program will let HR see how a new strategy works before rolling out a full implementation.
  5. Apply Best Practices to Enhance Accessibility. At Iron Mountain, the leading technology and best practices unite with strict chain of custody controls to secure your records, making them more accessible.

*Iron Mountain Whitepaper: “Best Practices: Shifting HR Resources from Records Management to Strategic Initiatives,” 2009

Have more document management questions? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or Contact Iron Mountain’s consulting services team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your information management challenges.