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Guest Blog Post from IDC: Rethinking HR Document Management for the New Hybrid Work Reality

This blog, co-authored by Lisa Rowan, Vice President of Modern HR Strategies at IDC and Holly Muscolino, Group Vice President of Content Strategies and the Future of Work at IDC, discusses the critical role HR document management technology solutions play in enabling a better employee onboarding experience. 


Rethinking HR Document Management for the New Hybrid Work Reality

Date: July 22, 2022

Guest IDC Bloggers: Lisa Rowan, VP Modern HR Strategies and Holly Muscolino, GVP of Content Strategies and the Future of Work

Sponsored By: SAP

Documents are the lifeblood of any organization. It is difficult to think of many business processes that are not dependent on some type of document for success. Of course, this observation holds true for HR processes and the HR professionals that make them happen. All processes from recruitment to employee onboarding, benefits enrollment and administration, compensation, performance appraisals, employee communications, and off-boarding require some sort of form, record, or other type of communication. But the technologies to support those document-centric business processes were often not a priority for HR professionals since most of the time they worked just fine.

Until we had a global pandemic, that is. Almost overnight, about 50% of the workforce started working remotely, including HR professionals and those they serve. Suddenly, manual, paper-based processes, or even digital processes that were interrupted by manual steps, could no longer proceed. Digital technologies that were formerly “nice to have” now became mission critical. Modernization of document and content services solutions became a number one priority, along with other digital transformation initiatives, including adoption of intelligent technologies, automation, and a shift to the cloud.

Today, we know that a hybrid work model is here to stay. In recent IDC research, 82% of respondents in North America told us that their organization has adopted or will adopt a hybrid work model in 2022, and other regions are seeing similar trends. Secure, anytime, anywhere access to documents and other services around the document life cycle are required to support the new hybrid workforce reality. This must go beyond secure access to document repositories. All services, including authoring, document generation, collaboration, delivery, storage, and retention must be location and device agnostic. HR professionals and their colleagues have an opportunity to truly transform their day-to-day workflows.

Are HR professionals ready to meet the challenge?  IDC’s Future of Work Global Survey (April 2022) asked respondents how prepared their organization was to meet current and future work transformation requirements. The good news is that 36% of the 405 HR leaders surveyed told us their organization both improved the use of technology and made the needed changes to work practices and policies to support business requirements. Another 15% have also implemented a process to iteratively evaluate technology requirements, work practices, and policies to adapt a business conditions change. Of course, half of organizations surveyed still have work to do.

The benefits of modernizing HR document processes, including a shift to the cloud, go beyond access for remote HR personnel and their constituents (see Figure 1). Modernization increases process efficiency, leading to higher stakeholder satisfaction, and the ability for HR to focus on higher value tasks. Equally important, modern HR document workflows are more secure, reducing business risk. Compliance is easier to control, including setting and managing retention schedules and aligning with government regulations. And higher employee satisfaction equates to higher retention rates, important in today’s dynamic work environment.

Figure 1: Benefits of Shifting Document Workflows to the Cloud

Question: What do you see as the biggest benefits from a shift to the cloud?

Source: US – IT QuickPoll – Content Services Survey, IDC, January 2022

Here’s an example of how an organization can experience these benefits by transforming HR document workflows:

  • An HR professional uses an existing template and an online form to generate an offer letter for a new employee. Some information may be pre-filled due to integration with the organization’s human capital management (HCM) solution. This is an example of increased efficiency.
  • The offer letter is stored in a cloud repository and automatically routed to the appropriate internal stakeholder(s) for approval. This is an example both of efficiency but also increased security, as paper documents may be easily misplaced or fall into the wrong hands. Of course, if the stakeholders are working remotely, they can still access the required documents and move the process along.
  • Once approved, the offer letter is emailed to the candidate who can review the digital document and sign it electronically. The signed document is routed back to the HR professional who initiated the process and saved in a content management system. Here we see faster time to value, as the hiring process occurs more quickly and the candidate may be onboarded sooner.
  • That signed letter may also initiate additional workflows, such as preparing and sending benefits information, notifying IT, preparing required financial documents, and so forth. Integration with the organization’s HCM and ERP solutions may trigger the creation of the appropriate records. This ensures an enhanced employee experience for all involved.
  • The status of the process is visible at every stage and provides automatic alerts back to the initiator. This results in an enhanced experience for the individual, as they don’t need to reach out via other channels to proactively track the progress. Comprehensive visibility makes the process more secure.

Not only is this process faster and more efficient, but errors are also minimized, and it offers a better experience for all involved.  None of the parties involved are required to be in the office. The happy candidate is impressed with their new organization and anxious to get started!

Hybrid work models are here to stay, and the HR role is more important than ever in our dynamic business environment. It is time to evaluate existing HR document processes and ensure that they are ready to take the organization into the new world of work.


Message from the Sponsor

To learn more about how you can digitize and streamline your HR document management processes, please visit our website.

About the co-authors

Lisa Rowan is Research Vice President for IDC responsible for global research on human capital and talent management software and services. Ms. Rowan provides expert analysis focused on both the business services and software used to address HR and talent-related dimensions. Her research addresses developments in human capital and talent management applications, human resources consulting, and HR outsourcing services.

Holly Muscolino is the Group Vice President, Content Strategies and the Future of Work at  IDC, responsible for research related to innovation and transformation in content solutions, including intelligent document processing, esignature, imaging and printing and other content workflow services. Ms. Muscolino’s core coverage also includes work transformation, technology & digital skills research, and the role of technology in driving the Future of Work. 

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