Six ways HR professionals can streamline their workflow

Online forms make for versatile tool that can be used for variety of tasks
By Miranda Nicholson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 10/03/2016

Human resources professionals are constantly gathering information and signatures from employees — all while working to keep the data organized, secure and confidential. Most HR departments are juggling multiple administrative projects at once and working hard to keep all the moving parts in place. In addition, the HR team is probably handling more physical paperwork and documents than necessary.

With many managers saying automating processes would increase their productivity, switching to an online data collection system is crucial for efficient workflow — now, more than ever — and can add up to hours of saved time.

Even if HR has been doing things the same way for decades, moving to an electronic system is easy and painless. One way to do it — and to do it well — is using online forms. These are a versatile data-capture tool that can be used for a wide variety of human resources tasks.

From automating submission followups to eliminating unnecessary email to saving money on training, online forms can transform the way an HR department does business. Here are six ways HR can streamline its workflow using online forms:

Form security

Dealing with sensitive employee information is a challenge for most HR departments. When collecting this type of information, HR professionals must ensure the information is secure and protected from both internal and external eyes.

When searching for an online form solution, HR should find one that protects human resources documents with multiple levels of security. Most forms make it possible to encrypt the form submission data and use PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) email encryption for any data shared over email.

In addition, some form builders allow users to add a heightened level of security to the system with password protection and 256-bit SSL (secure sockets layer), the industry standard in browser security.

Electronic signatures

Sometimes it might feel like the HR team is hunting around the office all day for the right signatures. From disciplinary forms, employee handbook forms, equipment check-out forms and paid time-off approval forms, there is no shortage of forms in the workplace that require signatures. Offering employees the option to sign these documents electronically is a great way to save time and streamline everyone’s workflows.

A built-in electronic signature feature on an online form builder makes collecting signatures easy. When implemented, HR professionals can collect employee signatures through any device and then save and access the signatures in their form database — meaning no more searching the office for missing documents or running around, interrupting employees and trying to collect dozens of signatures.

Workflow approval

HR workflows often require multiple data approvals from different individuals, departments or
external resources. When it comes to managing job candidates, electronic forms can help simplify the process and smooth out bumps in the workflow. HR recruiting and talent searching is nearly 100 per cent digital, so why shouldn’t the internal hiring process be conducted online, too?

Here’s how this type of feature can work: A hiring manager can be set up as an approver for job application submissions. From there, approvers can be automatically notified via email when their approval is needed.

Because the approvals or denials can be done from anywhere, on any device, it allows for greater flexibility and efficiency in the hiring process — meaning tasks are less likely to get lost in the workflow due to slowdowns and bottlenecks.

Email integrations

Internal communication is an ongoing challenge for arguably every HR department. Email can be cumbersome, and when people are trying to keep up with an overflowing inbox, workflows quickly become backed up and inefficient.

For one company, using forms for hiring eliminated nearly 2,000 hard-to-manage email threads and helped bring greater visibility to new hire needs.

Connecting HR forms to an email client is also helpful for automating internal communications as well. By setting up automatic emails that are triggered when employees fill out a certain form, the HR team can eliminate needless emails while still providing employees with the information and contact they need.

When people are spending less time digging through their emails, they can spend more time focusing on the internal communications that truly matter and make a difference for company morale and culture.

Calculating fields

Two major aspects of HR management are keeping a pulse on employee performance (through assessment and review forms) and gauging employee happiness (through satisfaction surveys and qualitative feedback).

Instead of using paper surveys or scheduling meetings to collect this data, online forms give HR professionals a fast, easy way to measure these internal factors.

In addition to streamlining the data, implementing form features such as self-calculating fields can help HR departments quickly gather an overall score for individuals or teams. By spending less time calculating data, HR professionals can focus more on improving employee performance and happiness instead of simply gauging it.

Training programs

If the HR department is spending an arm and a leg on an educational platform membership to help train and onboard employees, online forms could be a better solution.

Companies can save thousands of dollars by building their own training programs with electronic forms rather than paying for another vendor service.

For example, online forms can be used to embed training videos and insert applicable quiz questions.

Onboarding new employees and getting them started on training are processes that are typically steeped in lots of paperwork and a variety of training modules. Instead of tracking new employee progress on paper, online forms keep training programs moving forward.

Using online tools allows both new employees and the HR department to access and update data from anywhere and can help new hires transition into their new roles more quickly.

Human resources is an extremely important, valuable department in any company. And HR professionals will be able to do their jobs to the fullest by using online forms to streamline workflow.

By using forms to automate and streamline processes, the HR team will be able to work smarter and faster than ever before.

Miranda Nicholson is talent department manager at Formstack in Indianapolis, Ind. For more information, visit www.formstack.com.

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