Is your HR department wasting 300 hours a year handling paper?

If your human resources department is still relying on manual, paper-based processes, you may be putting your entire organization at risk. Paper files hurt HR in more ways than one – including paper cut injuries from carrying and rifling through hundreds of employee records!

It may seem like a small matter – after all, if it ain’t broke, you could just supply Band-Aids in the filing room and call it a day. But continuing to use paper records is dangerous to more than the occasional limb, not to mention time-consuming and expensive.

Consider the fact that HR professionals spend 14 percent of their time maintaining employee records, and 51 minutes a day just looking for information in paper documents, files and emails.

That’s more than 300 hours a year! It’s more than a month of eight-hour work days.

Imagine what your employees could accomplish with that time. Hours they could use to create more value to your organization such as training and development programs, recruitment and retention strategies and succession planning.

Moreover, manual administration of HR processes – including payroll and time sheets – costs up to $2,000 per employee per year, according to research by PwC. Imagine the savings and efficiency you can gain by digitizing these processes.

5 reasons to go digital

In addition to saving money on Band-Aids, following are five dangers of sticking with paper files in HR:

1. Lack of data security

The biggest concern with paper-based employee records is that you don’t know who has access to them. Even if you keep them locked in a filing room, all it takes is one careless mistake for a massive data breach with dire consequences.

In fact, an organization’s own employees are responsible for over 60 percent of data breaches, according to a study by IBM. And although 23 percent of data breaches occur due to malicious intent, 36 percent of them happen due to employee mistakes such as misplaced records or inadvertently forwarding emails that contain sensitive information.

2. Zero audit trail 

Take a look at any paper-based employee record; maybe even your own. Unless you dust for fingerprints, there is no way to know who has touched the document.

You also don’t have any visibility into that document’s full history: who accessed the document, what they did with it and when.

3. No safeguard for employee privacy

HR is tasked with handling employees’ sensitive information, including Social Security numbers, workplace injuries and health-related information. Additionally, HR also maintains records such as reference checks, performance reviews, pay levels, internal complaints and disciplinary action.

Laws and regulations vary by state, but maintaining confidentiality is crucial if you don’t want to risk costly lawsuits or fines. Violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act 1996 (HIPAA), for example, can cost millions – with a record $16 million settlement reported in October.

4. Lost or incomplete information

When paper-based filing systems are inconsistent, there is no single source of “truth” for an employee. In fact, only 6 percent of HR professionals are confident that all their employee files are complete.

Add the fact that 74 percent of organizations use four or more systems in addition to their HRIS, according to, and you have a recipe for disaster

Consider the processes your organization has in place for handling harassment complaints or investigating safety incidents. Besides an overwhelming amount of confidential information, these processes involve multiple stakeholders who need to take specific actions and contribute information, which you may also need to track for reporting or compliance purposes.

Can your HR department manage this process successfully? Or do you have “all-hands” moments, searching for paper documentation?

5. No backup for disaster recovery

Now, it’s time to get scary. What happens if your filing room catches fire? Or floods?

You can repair physical damage, and you can replace filing cabinets, but there’s no backup for the data within.

In the event of a catastrophic loss of data due to fire or flood, 60 percent of businesses shut down within six months and 93 percent file for bankruptcy within a year, according to PC mag.

The solution

If any of these five issues plague your HR department, it’s time to take a good look at what the right content services platform can do to help.

Whether you’re looking for robust information security, proactive compliance processes, data privacy, complete information that’s backed up and easy to access, even after a natural disaster, content services has what you need. Even if you want to do all that in the cloud.

Ready to learn more? Check out our new eBook, 7 Reasons Your HR Department Needs a Content Services Platform.

Danielle Simer is a marketing portfolio manager at Hyland. Her mission is to share best practices and evangelize the power of enterprise content management (ECM) as a tool to automate paper-based processes and improve operations across accounting and finance, human resources, and contract management. Danielle joined Hyland after more than six years with a research and advisory firm devoted to helping senior executives manage their departments and teams more effectively. She received her bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University and her MBA from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
Danielle Simer

Danielle Simer

Danielle Simer is a marketing portfolio manager at Hyland. Her mission is to share best practices and evangelize the power of enterprise content management (ECM) as a tool to automate... read more about: Danielle Simer