The HR manager's guide to easy file management

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Do you find yourself searching through mounds of folders for the file you need? Can you not remember which platform it was on, what you named it, where you stored it, or all three?

If so, you’re taking time away from the more pressing, higher-priority activities on your plate.

This issue isn’t just a “you” problem — organizations everywhere are going through the same thing. The 2023 Workplace Relevance Report found that workers estimate they spend almost three hours every workday searching for information needed to do their jobs!

It’s time to put the kibosh on wasting time digging through your documents with an efficient new file management system. 

Why fine-tuning file management is essential in human resources

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“A good system shortens the road to the goal.”

~ Orison Swett Marden, American author and founder of SUCCESS magazine

Creating an effective document management system sets you up for success by putting rules in place for everything from file names to subfolders to file sharing. The result? Numerous benefits in every area of HR operations — from hiring to compliance. Plus, it eliminates the “where the HE!! is it?!” conundrum. 

Efficient onboarding and offboarding

HR’s onboarding and offboarding processes must be flawless to create and maintain a positive employee experience. Organized files speed up transitions for new hires and departing employees and make a good impression. 

When you can easily lay hands on the documents you need, it helps move employee onboarding forward fast and makes offboarding a smooth process too. Employees don’t have to wait around for their documents or go back and forth with HR because of incomplete paperwork.

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Accuracy of employee records

Meticulous file management directly impacts the accuracy of employee records in HR. An effective file management system can ensure the correct document version so HR can be confident they have the most updated (and required) employee information.

Efficiency and productivity

Being able to quickly find the paper documents or electronic files you need saves time and enhances your ability to focus on strategic initiatives and projects. Setting standards for storage location, folder structure, and naming conventions creates a well-organized file system that allows you to hone in on the documents you need.

After adopting a structured file system, every HR team member adds documents to the folders and subfolders they correspond to. Now, everyone can quickly find the files they need, even if they didn’t originally create them. 

Compliance and legal requirements

Two of HR’s most important responsibilities are following numerous employment laws and maintaining compliance with how they handle and store employee records. File management centralizes document storage, which helps provide transparent and easy access to information during audits, bolsteringHR compliance efforts.

The primary components of effective file management

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Effectively managing files means building a process for organizing, storing, and protecting each document.

File organization 

If your files are unorganized, there won’t be an easy path to locate what you need.  File organization is a foundational pillar of any document management initiative.

To organize files efficiently, you should:

  1. Choose your file management option. Just like there are different people management styles, there are different types of file management: hierarchical electronic file management, network electronic file management, and relational electronic file management.

  2. Set up the main folder. In almost every operating system, you’ll need to set up a main folder that holds all important documents.

  3. Design a folder structure. Consider the information you’ll be storing and accessing and group similar documents together in subfolders. For example, use a primary folder for “Employee Onboarding” paperwork with subfolders for each year.

  4. Set a naming convention. Create a naming process for each type of file you work with. Add details as needed to make them as easy to recognize and search for as possible. Avoid special characters and uncommon abbreviations. 

File storage 

If you’re using multiple storage devices, you’ve pretty much set up a “hide and seek” game with your docs.

Store your files in a single location, whether it be on your computer, Dropbox, cloud storage, OneDrive, or server. A dedicated storage space eliminates the need to look in multiple areas every time you need access to files, saving time and increasing productivity. 

File protection

HR handles confidential information about current and former employees, and good file management keeps this data secure.

When files are well organized, it’s easier to set controls that deny unauthorized access to important documents. You can set encryption processes and even keep a log of every access, change, or deletion that happens.

Leveraging file management software can streamline the process and increase the return on your efforts. 

5 strategies for improving file management in HR

If you and your team have trouble finding the stored files you need and are wasting time tracking them down, tighten up your file management strategy with these tips.

1. Use a file management solution that seamlessly links to your project workflows

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HR projects frequently intertwine with other department initiatives. Using a file management solution that seamlessly integrates with other projects can decrease time spent on data entry and instances of miscommunication. offers the ideal solution for streamlining your file management and enhancing collaboration and organization within your workflows. It offers robust storage and organization capabilities and tons of helpful integrations (including SharePoint, OneDrive, Google Drive, and more).

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2. Establish a clear file organization structure

A standardized, well-defined file organization structure is key to establishing efficient file storage. Use a hierarchy of folders, starting with the main folder. Then segment important documents into subfolders as needed.

Use descriptive folders and filenames and set a standard process for creating file and folder names throughout your organization.

You can use these elements as part of your naming convention:

  • Date created: 2002, Dec 2014, 3 Quarter

  • Customer name: ABC Software, Brown Construction

  • Employee name: Dan Green, Smith Karen

  • Document type: Marketing Email, Product Launch Plan

  • Version number: V2, 3rd version

  • Sequential numbers (if it’s a series of documents): 02, 03. 04

  • Geographic scope: Dallas, Germany, South LA

  • Content type: Invoice, Case Study, Contract

Don’t forget to rename existing documents to fit into your established naming conventions and organize them within your new system.

3. Implement access controls and permissions

Preventing unauthorized access is especially vital for HR files, since they often contain personal information on applicants and employees.

Setting up strict controls and permissions that only allow authorized personnel to access information helps mitigate security breaches and all the trouble that comes with them. It also helps maintain data integrity and keeps the department in compliance.

4. Conduct regular audits and quality checks

Regularly check your file management system for gaps, redundancies, and inconsistencies. If you find any, address them right away. This helps maintain data accuracy and keeps HR in compliance with internal requirements and external laws and regulations. It also helps continuously improve the system’s positive impact on efficiency and productivity.

5. Train employees on file management best practices

HR leaders will need to promote buy-in if they want the file management strategy to work.  All team members need to be trained, and there should be regular follow-up reminders of how to properly use the system. Unifying everyone behind the initiative fosters consistency, reduces errors, and ensures the program’s long-range success.

Elevate your file management efficiency with

Nothing good comes from an employee spending twenty minutes or more hunting for an important file. Creating and maintaining a file management plan for your HR team saves time, increases efficiency, and reduces frustration.

A file management software platform is the smartest way to manage your file management strategy — and fits the bill perfectly. Digital file storage, intuitive collaboration tools, and a long list of document storage integrations make the smart choice for executing a successful file management solution.

Sign up for today and get your files organized, accessible, and under control.

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