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14 Tips for Maintaining Proper HR Documentation

— March 31, 2023

You can have the most detailed documentation, but if there is no follow-through on the actions it states will be taken, then it does little good. ~ Alexandre Bocquet, Founder and CEO, Betterly

From outsourcing your HR processes as soon as possible to storing documents securely, here are 14 answers to the question, “How can a startup maintain proper HR documentation?”

  • Outsource or Hire Internally as Soon as Possible
  • Develop Storing Procedures
  • Create an Accessible Master Document With All Relevant Info 
  • Maintain Confidentiality
  • Properly Classify Every Team Member
  • Request and Save Feedback in Employee Files
  • Create Written Offer Letters Or Employment Agreements
  • Use Software Like ClickUp
  • Keep a Closing Checklist
  • Seek Legal Advice and Guidance
  • Check Federal and State Requirements
  • Put One Person in Charge of It
  • Use Zoho Docs Software
  • Store Documents Securely

Outsource or Hire Internally as Soon as Possible

You need to look to either hire internally or outsource your HR processes as soon as consistent documentation comes into play as you scale. 

Otherwise, you’re very quickly going to struggle to keep track of HR processes if you do not have either a dedicated department or an outsourced solution to manage all HR processes (including the storage and proper actions in relation to documentation requirements).

Tracey Beveridge, HR Director, Personnel Checks

Develop Storing Procedures

Effective maintenance of HR documentation involves developing procedures that govern how HR documents are created and stored. Start by identifying what documents will be circulating, from job descriptions or employment contracts to termination records. Ensure they are categorized and stored in separate folders, named by months, years, department, or employee names. Keep them in an obvious place for easy access, whether it is in a physical file or a digital database. Consider using HR management software or other digital tools. But whether you go digital or stick with paper files, always remember to consider privacy and security requirements.

Storing procedures for HR documentation ensures that startups have accurate, complete, and easily accessible records, which prevents the loss of documents and chaos associated with searching for relevant materials. Additionally, these procedures ensure the continuity of circulation and management of documentation.

Nina Paczka, Community Manager, Resume Now

Create an Accessible Master Document With All Relevant Info 

From a business that has worked with hundreds of startups, my top tip for a startup to maintain proper HR documentation would be to create a master document for each employee that includes all relevant information in one place. 

This way, you won’t need to search through multiple documents to find the information you need. You should look to combine an online document collaboration platform to ensure that all team members have access to the most up-to-date information. If you make life difficult for yourself, then tasks and things will fall by the wayside.

Playing catch-up for important work for your employees never goes down well and rightly so.

Dustin Ray, Co Ceo and Chief Growth Officer, IncFile

Maintain Confidentiality

Regarding HR records, I believe that maintaining confidentiality is crucial. You must make sure that sensitive information is kept private and that only authorized staff have access to employee records. Employees should be instructed on how to handle personal information and made aware of the necessity of safeguarding privacy.

Kyle Basett, Chief Operating Officer, Altitude Control

Properly Classify Every Team Member

Whether you have a team of 10 or 1,000 employees, correctly classifying your workers is essential. And this requires HR to list each person as an hourly or salaried employee, contractor, and if they’re exempt or non-exempt.

Benefits that are regulated by state and federal legislation, such as unpaid family, medical, and military leave, workers’ compensation, and unemployment benefits, are determined by the categorization of the employee. And should an HR staffer fail to classify an employee, the business may be held liable for their taxes, benefits, and pay.

Daniel Kroytor, Founder and Director, Tailored Pay

Request and Save Feedback in Employee Files

Feedback from their managers and peers is valuable insight to be included in an employee’s file. This data could prove pivotal to decision-making and referencing for evaluations and other notable employment initiatives. When it comes to supporting a business, HR requires comprehensive insight to help them maintain proper HR documentation, so the more feedback that can be gathered, the better.

Andrew Chen, Chief Product Officer, Videeo

Create Written Offer Letters Or Employment Agreements

You can avoid many employee-related disputes by taking the time to develop and utilize an offer letter or employment agreement to start the employee-employer relationship.

Memorializing employment agreements in signed writing helps ensure everyone is on the same page for certain key issues, such as hours, pay, key duties, benefits, and termination. These agreements can also be utilized to protect intellectual property and confidential information.

Although handshake deals may be easier for a small business, taking the time to establish a system for offering employment can pay dividends.

Derek Colvin, Attorney, Waldrop & Colvin

Use Software Like ClickUp

Our startup has just switched to ClickUp, and it’s a game changer. It has templates for everything you could possibly need and things you didn’t even think of. There are job proposals, EAPs, company culture designs, employee management tools, and more! It will really help set you off in the right direction if you use an all-in-one software that keeps all documentation in one place.

Jarir Mallah, HR Specialist, Ling App

Keep a Closing Checklist

Person making a checklist of tasks; image by Glenn Carstens-Peters, via
Person making a checklist of tasks; image by Glenn Carstens-Peters, via

You can have the most detailed documentation, but if there is no follow-through on the actions it states will be taken, then it does little good. This is why it is important to have a closing checklist. Documentation can include everything from progress check-ins to disciplinary action, to benefits and bonuses, and each one will have benchmarks as well as actions needed to be taken by both the employer and employee.

Making sure you create a checklist for each piece of documentation, including meetings, notifications, additional paperwork, and timeframes, is critical in ensuring that your documentation maintains its legality and validity. In creating a comprehensive closing checklist for each piece of documentation requiring action, you can make sure to maintain a record of credibility between the employer and employee, as well as additional protection for both parties.

Alexandre Bocquet, Founder and CEO, Betterly

Seek Legal Advice and Guidance

Seeking legal advice and guidance for HR documentation allows startups to comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Employment laws can be very complex and vary by jurisdiction. A qualified legal professional can help you quickly navigate the legal system and ensure that your HR documentation is legally sound to minimize adverse legal consequences.

Working with an HR lawyer helps ensure your policies are fair, equitable, and compliant with ethical and social standards. This enables you to avoid expensive legal fees and settlements, which saves you time, money, and resources in the long run. It also allows you to establish and maintain proper HR documentation practices, which can help promote a productive work environment and reduce legal and reputational risks.

Riva Jeane May Caburog, PR and Media Coordinator, Nadrich & Cohen Accident Injury Lawyers

Check Federal and State Requirements

When hiring new employees, make sure you check federal and state requirements in terms of which paperwork they should fill out. Common forms include an Employer Identification Number (EIN), a State Tax Identification Number, Employee Eligibility Verification (I-9), Federal Income Tax Withholding (W-4), and Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification (W-9). This is not a comprehensive list, though, so it’s smart to check the requirements for the state in which your startup is located.

Andrew Meyer, CEO, Arbor

Put One Person in Charge of It

Through my experiences working with startups, it feels like everyone has their hand in everything. This can work for certain tasks and can promote collaboration, which I really encourage in my company. But sometimes, it’s better to have one person take the lead on a task, especially if it’s something like maintaining the proper HR documentation.

I would put one person in charge of this job and give them the lead to do what they need to in order to maintain things properly. Find a qualified person and give them the reins, rather than having multiple employees from your HR team chip in. One person can take pride in the work they are doing and will have to stay on top of changing ways and things they need to keep up with in order to do the job to the best of their ability.

Joe Davies, Co-founder, FATJOE

Use Zoho Docs Software

Document management is crucial because it holds management and organizations together. HR is expected to handle custom employee handbooks, policies, and a multitude of files. Zoho Docs is a useful software to maintain proper HR documentation. It supports a point-solution for creating, sharing, and collaborating on employee documents. HR managers and employees can reduce paperwork using Zoho Docs. They can organize online documents in a centralized vault.

You only have to pay $5 per month to access the software. It provides 50GB of storage per user for task management and role-based access. Have a look at some of its features:

1. Sync offline files online

2. Share files within and outside the organization

3. Edit text documents and spreadsheets online

4. Import documents from other storage software

5. Store and preview files online

Saikat Ghosh, Associate Director of HR and Business, Technource

Store Documents Securely

I believe it’s important to have a safe place to keep HR paperwork, as it may contain personal information about employees. Use a password-protected computer system or a locked filing cabinet to store sensitive information. I would recommend taking measures to restrict access to employee records to only those who need it and to prevent any unwarranted disclosure of private data.

Cindi Keller, Communications Coordinator, Criminal Defense Lawyers

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