Like many, last December found me humming holiday songs. But while others dreamed of a white Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah, I dreamed of paperless HR. Yep, I'm an HR Nerd; I admit it!
I work at a nonprofit, where resources, time and budgets are tight. As I compare technology in the nonprofit and the business worlds, I see the latter forging ahead while I fear nonprofits fall behind at an exponential rate. It's a bit alarming to contemplate the lag that expands relentlessly every year. Many of us don't have IT departments. We don't have much money for consultants or new technology. What we have is a great work environment, the World Wide Web (free or almost free), our connections (free), and our ingenuity, resourcefulness and persistence (free, free, free).
It is in this context that I try to reduce the amount of paper I amass, track, store, and ultimately shred. At the moment, Paperless HR is a pipe dream, but for now I can happily settle for "Less-Paper HR." Some thoughts for other nonprofits who may agree:
1. Consider Scanning to your HRIS. Think about the cost/benefit ratio not just now but later; in what electronic format will those documents be stored, and how will that impact conversion/implemention costs when and if you choose a new HRIS down the line?
2. Consider Less-Paper Recruiting. Rather than relying on paper applications or emailed resumes, use free or low cost Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to post positions, house resumes, and respond to candidates. Some possibilities I've started to play with: Resumator, Simplicant, and Credentify (thanks @FrankBoese of Twitter for the tips). Each has its own spin, whether posting, automatic/canned email responses, or screening capabilities. Check them out!
3. Force a Change. To implement #2 may require culture change. Believe it or not, a small but significant proportion of my staff and applicant pool don't regularly use the Internet or have a Yahoo email account. At some point, that's gotta change. I'm deciding that point is 2009.
4. Shorten Forms. I just shortened my HR Coordinator interview format by 75%. I now only print resumes of candidates I'm interviewing. If I could similarly reduce all paperwork, my file cabinets would start to fear being put out to pasture! What can you shorten or eliminate?
5. Go Online Whenever You Can. Enroll benefits online. Have new employee enter their information into the state New Hire database rather than completing, faxing and filing a form. Store Workers Comp, FMLA, correspondence and other records online whenever possible.
6. Think Before You Print. Regardless of the task, think twice. When you print, you have to collate, organize, file, track and shred.
Good luck! Less-Paper HR, here we come! Please share any Less-Paper HR ideas in the comment section below.
flicker pic by Howard Roark