In some ways, being an HR professional is a lot like herding cats. You’re constantly following up with employees on simple tasks that ultimately benefit them but that you’re responsible for implementing.
From updating direct deposit information or submitting a change of address request, to adding new emergency contact details or completing qualifying life event forms, chasing down documents and managing deadlines is a thorn in the side of most HR departments.
Any time an employee gets married and needs their last name changed, requires a new parking pass, must acknowledge receipt of a new employee handbook, or any one of a dozen other routine processes, it’s up to HR to distribute the forms and manage the people and deadlines involved. It can be frustrating and unnecessarily time-consuming, but there is a solution.
More public sector agencies are abandoning paper processes and moving to software that helps them create, distribute, and approve form submissions. The result is an easier, more secure, more compliant, and more efficient process for dreaded HR data documentation that puts the employee in control of their workplace lives and eliminates tiresome manual processes often fraught with errors.
Here are five benefits government agencies typically experience by speeding up and improving these common tedious HR processes:
(1) Create Visibility
When paper forms are piling high on your desk or an employee who picked a form up and hasn’t been seen since, it’s difficult to know what you’re waiting on and what the impact will be if it’s not submitted on time. Getting the form thoroughly completed and returned is the first step, but then there are approvals, and usually some action that must take place in order to implement the change or request. When you’re managing by spreadsheets, knowing where you or your employees are in the process is a near impossible.
Using a software system designed for managing public sector HR forms pulls back the curtain so you and your employees know the status of every process, ensuring that everyone is on the same page with what is required and when.
The importance of real-time visibility in HR is made clear in an article from HR Technologist, which underlines that “several moving parts must work together to achieve success. These “moving parts” are people whose personal information is ever-evolving – and must constantly be updated.”
There can many steps required in an HR process. For example, even a “simple” process like filling in a new IT policy acknowledgement form requires HR to find or create the form, deliver it to the employees, along with the updated IT policy, make sure the form is completely correctly and returned, and then signed off by the appropriate manager. Manual processes do not allow for everyone to be on the same page when it comes to information collection. This can lead to documents being forgotten or not completed correctly before a deadline.
Digital, real-time documentation software allows you to be sure you imported all the documents you needed and lets everyone see what is required of them throughout each step of the process. Visibility is a key ingredient for your HR process, to be certain you and your employees understand what’s going on with a form every step of the way.
(2) Automate Notifications
When a paper form is being routed around the office, how can you keep track of who has it or when it is due? Deadlines for public sector human resources forms can be firm and necessary to stay compliant with the law. In these situations, deadlines cannot be missed. However, manual form processes do not allow for automatic notification.
Finding a system that has an integrated due date notification and overdue notice system will make sure you and your employees are on track and alerted when forms are due. As an HR professional, you often deal with “as-needed” forms that not every employee is filling out at the same time. This can make it extremely difficult to track.
For example, if Employee John had a child and needs to update his dependents information for insurance purposes, this is an “as-needed” form. John collects a form from HR, but then forgets about it and does not return it by the deadline. HR is overrun with as-needed forms and does not check up on John for the form. Next time open enrollment comes around for John’s insurance, he does not have the accurate information in place to re-up his insurance.
Digital systems that give automatic prompts and notifications to you and your employees make certain that forms are completed in a timely manner. Implementing a system that automatically provides prompts will take the stress out of HR processes.
(3) Empower Employees
One impactful way you can speed up your HR processes is to allow your employees to self-serve. Letting employees have access to required forms and see a form throughout the process of completion furnishes the employee with the knowledge that they play an active role in the sharing of their HR information.
Manual form processes do not allow for your employees to take the driver’s seat when share their information. When they pick up a paper form from HR, fill it out, and return it, they are not able to see where the form goes, where their information is being stored or how it’s shared. Having a self-service portal like this will empower your employees and show that you are supporting them in ways beyond their job title.
Implementing a digital process allows your employees to be aware of what information they are sharing and for what purpose, every step of the way. When they have direct access to a self-service portal and can see any forms that they have completed, forms they should currently be working on, and those that will be required in the future, they are taking control of their information. When public sector organizations like yours take steps to empower employees, even in ways that might not seem to have much impact, HR processes become a less tedious, more manageable process.
(4) Create Accountability
In order to speed up your HR processes, creating accountability is crucial. Assigning tasks to a particular person, in a secure system, will make sure sensitive information stays private and that forms will get done when they need to.
When manual forms are being chased down and no one is able to be on the same page with required documents, you have to react to problems that come up. Perhaps your employee put an extremely sensitive, private form on your desk, such as a divorce form. What if another employee accidentally knocks it off your desk on the way past, picks it up and sees the sensitive information? Or maybe a pile of papers is stacked on your desk, and you have now lost the required form that was original lying somewhere on your desk? With a manual process like this, you’re reacting after something bad happens.
Having a great digital system allows you to be proactive instead. Know where all of your forms are, and know that they are secure. No one’s private information will be lying on a desk for anyone to see, and you won’t risk missing a deadline when you and the employee are receiving notifications for its due date. Being proactive, with accountability for all of these processes, will reduce the headaches of HR processes.
(5) Use Customized Digital Workflows
HR forms often go through multiple stages, such as data collection and review. Multi-contributor forms can be a pain, and manual processes make it difficult to keep track of who has seen a form, who still needs to sign off on it, or where the form is heading next. Using a system that allows you to build customized digital workflows take most of the uncertainty out of a complex process.
A multi-stage form might require the employee to complete a form, a manager to add to the form and sign off, and then HR to also sign off that the form is complete and accurate. Utilizing a software that easily combines these tasks and creates one, easy-to-use workflow not only saves time for HR, but also the frustrations that come with these complex processes.
Utilizing a data documentation system that offers visibility, notifications, automatic workflows, and that ensures accountability and empowers your employees will save you time and frustration, and improve compliance. When selecting a new data management system for your HR processes, keeping these tips in mind will come together to speed up HR processes and make necessary data easy to manage. Speeding up your HR processes will allow you the time to focus on new and exciting tasks to positively impact the people who make your organization run.