6 Key Components for a Successful Records Management Program

A records management program is a method to ensure that each document that passes through HR is secure and available for reference.

Key points:

  • Businesses require organization and maintenance of their large collection of documents.
  • Managing records efficiently requires multiple, deliberate steps.
  • An HRIS is the optimal tool for managing records.

The best way to access and maintain a large volume of paperwork is through a records management program—a method to ensure that each document that passes through your HR team’s hands, or across their screens, is secure and available for reference whenever necessary. In this blog post, we will go over six important elements of a records management program. 

What are the Benefits of Record Management?

HR professionals solve problems every day, and most issues—from important benefits changes to overtime approvals—create paperwork. Managing these documents in an efficient yet secure manner keeps an organization running smoothly and leads to happier employees. It also protects employers from legal claims in the event of a lawsuit or workplace infraction, and allows HR teams to spend less time chasing down paperwork and more time helping their colleagues. 

The 6 Elements of Record Management

Every business, big or small, has a different type of paper trail. A manufacturing  company, for example, might have health and safety documentation requirements that exceed an insurance agency down the street—but the latter may have a far more complex system of employment contracts for its partners and associates. 

The fundamentals of an effective records management program remain the same, so keep reading to learn more about the necessities.

A Map of All Relevant HR Documents

Organizing important documents should be the first priority for any effective records management program. This program should make it easy for your HR team to quickly locate:

  • Recruiting documents: Recruiting documents can range from job descriptions, public job postings, and applications to resumes, portfolios, and even reference checks and credit reports of applicants, including those who weren’t hired. Federal contractors subject to affirmative action requirements may need to store additional information as well.
  • Employee records: Legal paperwork for all of your company’s employees. This includes I-9 and W-4 forms and other onboarding documents, as well as employment contracts, including non-compete and confidentiality clauses. Once employees are on the job, you’ll also need to store records of their attendance, performance, and any formal discipline notices. In states where they are permitted, employers will also need to store background check results securely. 
  • Health-related documents: Any paperwork your HR department requires, such as disability records and requests for state and federal leave or accommodations. For certain positions, this may include alcohol and drug test results.
  • Benefits records: All materials needed to keep track of employees’ benefits information such as individual 401k plans, dental and health insurance, health savings accounts, and parental leave plans. 
  • Payroll records: Payroll records are essential for ensuring your team’s compensation. These may include time sheets, pay stubs, tax information, attendance records, and bank details for direct deposits.
  • Training materials: All of the records and resources needed to train your employees and keep them safe, plus records of training program completion. 
  • Safety reports: Data related to an incident, such as medical records, incident reports, and workers compensation information, can be acquired through safety and accident reports.

Security and Defined Access Parameters

HR managers should take into account who needs access to particular documents, when, and for what purpose. It’s crucial to consider why these documents are necessary for a specific job and how often employees must access them.

A good records management program should prevent users from accessing sensitive documents irrelevant to their role. For example, some files such as medical or disability-related records must be kept separate from standard personnel files and treated with a greater degree of sensitivity than other employee records.

That means finding software with robust security to prevent unauthorized access. These measures aren’t just to prevent someone from accidently seeing a document they shouldn’t—they also cut down on theft. Americans lost $5.8 billion to identity fraud in 2021, according to the Federal Trade Commission, and many of the most lucrative details for fraudsters include information like Social Security Numbers that is easily found in employee files.

Retention Rules 

Employers are legally required to hold employee records for a minimum of seven years post-departure. This applies to all types of records, such as signed contracts or I-9 forms, though some federal and state laws may require shorter periods for certain documents.These retention rules apply to all sorts of records, including any employment contracts signed by a former worker. 

For effective records management, HR teams must not only determine how long to store documents but also when to dispose of them. To liberate space for current records and maintain the privacy of former employees, assign expiry dates in a manual or automated fashion.

Storage and Archive Plan

It is crucial to create a plan to store, access, archive, and otherwise work with all the documents in an organization’s paper trail. This might mean simply grouping every document in the system together by access point, topic, or folder. For organizations still reliant on old-fashioned paper files, it may also mean digitization. 

Going paperless provides greater ease-of-access, so an effective records management program allows HR teams to convert existing forms into digital files. Of course, with digitization comes the question of security. Any team converting paper files into digital ones also needs to think about how to protect this data from corruption, hacking, or disclosure to unauthorized employees. 

Proper Training

Thorough training strengthens the procedures of an effective records management program. Employees who need to access an organization’s HR files need to know how to properly do so, how to share them securely, and how to work with the program in place. They also need an understanding of basic IT security measures (like not clicking on suspicious links and accidentally downloading spyware) and legal requirements around the data they’re working with. 

Records Management Software

Finally, you’ll require an easily accessible system to store and access all of this employee data. Investing in an all-in-one Human Resources Information System (HRIS) with document management capabilities will allow your HR team to manage HR processes and save records effortlessly. Ultimately, implementing an HRIS will give you more time to focus on the key factor: developing your organization’s workforce.ease. Ultimately, an HRIS will give you more time to focus on what matters most: the people in your organization. 

The Benefits of Records Management Software

One of the best ways to handle records management is through the use of records management software programs. These are digital tools, either standalone or an integrated feature within an HRIS, that make document organization, compliance, workflow efficiency, and security a breeze. While they may seem a little daunting to those who haven’t used one before, here is why records management software is a necessity for HR teams: 

Easier Compliance 

The law requires that companies keep track of everything from job applicants to exit interview notes for all employees. That is no easy task, especially when all of these records are scattered across a series of disorganized folders in a computer or filing cabinet. With a records management software, organizations can stay on top of their legal obligations. Another key to staying compliant is making sure the right paperwork has a signature, and there’s no easier way to do that than with an e-signature. The right solution will allow you to request e-signatures from within the software, allowing employees to securely (and easily) view and sign documents from their mobile or desktop device.

Better Workflows

A records management program streamlines the daily document management of your organization. Acting as a central hub of crucial knowledge, it provides efficient access to employee data, so your HR team can view who has filled out contracts and onboarding paperwork quickly and conveniently, instead of manually visiting each individual new hire’s desk.

Minimize Risks and Protect Data 

Data protection is critical in HR, and a piece of paper with sensitive data is all too easily lost or stolen. With a password-protected program and access parameters limited to those who need to know, a records management program strikes that delicate balance between ease-of-access for HR teams and protection of an organization’s most important information. 

Effective Records Management Software

An HRIS can help your organization collect, access, and archive documents for secure recordkeeping. With an all-in-one solution like SentricHR’s document management features, your HR team is freed up to focus on what they do best developing and nurturing your employees to reach their maximum potential. Schedule a free demo with a Sentric representative today. 


The Sentric Team

The Sentric Team

At Sentric, we help businesses make people management easier with industry-leading technology and standout support.

Sentric HR & Payroll Insights

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