The Importance of Employee Correspondence Management
All businesses need to have appropriate correspondence templates and processes in place for their permanent and temporary employees. Such ‘correspondence’ can include standard letter templates, ad hoc letter, contracts and other documentation sent by a company to their employees.
Companies may typically send a mixture of e-mails, standard company documents and letters, but I advocate the centralization of the control and management of such correspondence, such that it can be standardized, controlled and monitored.
Any type of correspondence should be underpinned by HR policies and robust business processes. For example, letters in support of performance improvement measures or benefit changes should tightly controlled in terms of content and process in order to deliver the company policies and protect both employer and employee.
Some of these documents contain benefit and salary information; monetary entitlements that may rely on complex calculations, and which are stored in the SAP HCM system. And so instead of manual effort to check that such detail is correct, clearly it makes sense in terms of efficiency and risk to pull such information directly from the SAP system.
We typically see a mix of use-cases:
- Letters generated by SAP;
- Letters and e-mails composed manually without any template;
- Letters created by ‘mail-merge’ effort, using downloaded data from SAP.
In all these scenarios, businesses need to add tight controls to ensure that the processes are compliant and that managers are not inadvertently putting the company at risk.
1) Where possible, put it in writing
Companies and Line Managers should put all correspondence in writing. This should not replace the face-to-face meetings, but solidify any verbal communications or decisions.
Companies that are in the habit of recording meetings then do not need to take special measures when problems occur.
This also will help stop companies making verbal promises that they cannot keep.
2) Centralize letter template creation
Consider all letters as contracts. All correspondence should be drafted with great care, and ideally by a centralised department, such that line managers use letter templates provided to them.
Any document written by an employer to an employee can have legal consequences; obligations that can cause a problem if they are subsequently not met. And so it would be prudent to have all employee letter templates approved by a legal adviser.
Any letter that sets out changes to pay, grade or benefits represents a material alteration to the employee contract, which can have important legal consequences. It is important that such letters are triggered as part of a managed business process in line with company policies.
Each letter can provide protection for the employee, such that they have in writing what the company is undertaken. Also each letter can provide protection for the employer, such that they can demonstrate their compliance with internal policies and external legislature.
3) Store the correspondence electronically
Correspondence is very important because every employment relationship has an individual history that may need to be traced in order to find the rights and obligations the parties are working under. If there is ever a dispute, proof of what was agreed or expressed is most conveniently managed via correspondence.
You may need to retrieve employee correspondence for a variety of reasons:
- Pay and Tax reporting
- Check what benefits were communicated
- Check when warning letters were sent
- Check that legal obligations were met
It is hugely important to keep track of all correspondence, and while paper filing is one method, a more robust solution is to capture all correspondence electronically and store it against the electronic employee file: i.e. the employee master record in SAP. Rather than scanning and manually filing, it is more sensible for the communication to be generated from the SAP system, such that it can be added automatically or sent to an archive in a separate document system.
4) Use approvals to avoid your managers accidentally discriminating or causing offence.
Companies large and small encounter communication issues, and controlling employee correspondence is one way to minimise the risk of accidental offence or discrimination.
This means that it should be possible for letters triggered by line managers to be routed for approval, either up the managerial chain or to a central team. In some scenarios I would advise for letter templates to be pre-approved, with the ability for a line manager to personalise the letter by adding their own comments or changing standard paragraphs. Only those letters that have been personalised would then need to be separately approved.
5) Trigger correspondence automatically to avoid clerical errors by HR team
Unfortunately your HR team is not infallible, and so it is perfectly possible that mistakes will be made. Such mistakes can be largely eliminated by removing the need for manual correspondence creation through the automatic triggering of the correspondence and the integration of the letter with data from SAP.
General guidelines on employee correspondence
I like this link from workplaceinfo.com.
Aquiller is an SAP-certified out-of-the-box document and contract generation system that is completely integrated with SAP. Based on award-winning technology from Arch, it offers a simple, intelligent and cost effective solution for improving the efficiency of HR operations. Employee correspondence can be generated in a matter of minutes, and your HR professionals can focus on value-added activity.