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Digitizing personnel files: What you need to pay attention to

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Digitizing personnel files has long been common practice in modern management. Yet some companies are reluctant to take this step. Although there are many advantages to abolishing personnel files in paper form, HR professionals face data protection and structural challenges.

We'll show you why it's worth digitizing personnel files, what you need to pay attention to and how to best do so.

Paper-based personnel files: These are the challenges and disadvantages

Since January 2023, it is no longer up to companies to digitize or handwrite their personnel files. For the purpose of digitization, the legislator has decided that all personnel files must be digitally recorded by 2026 at the latest. This is a positive development with regard to the disadvantages that traditional personnel files entail.

Paper-based personnel records have a number of drawbacks, starting with lack of accessibility. The physical storage and transportation of files between different departments or locations is time-consuming and prone to errors. In addition, manual maintenance and updating of data in paper form is a potential source of error.

Although important documents should always be available in paper form in accordance with the retention period, digital personnel files are much more suitable for the efficiency of processes.

What advantages it has, by the way, to digitize all processes in the company, read elsewhere on our blog.

Why should companies digitize personnel files?

What information must be recorded in the personnel file is not regulated by law. However, they usually include information such as:

  • Personal data (name, address, date of birth, curriculum vitae, certificates and other personal information)
  • treaties
  • tax documents
  • Salary/salary
  • Working hours/vacation requests or sick leave
  • Warnings
  • Work references
  • Police clearance certificate

However, it is important to note that the recorded data must be related to the employment relationship. Private information has no place in both digital and written personnel files.

Natürlich haben Sie zuerst einige Vorarbeit zu leisten, um die Personalakten zu digitalisieren. Aber die Vorteile sind unschlagbar.
Of course, you have to do some preliminary work first in order to digitize the personnel files. But the benefits are unbeatable.

Benefits of digitizing personnel files:

  • More efficiency: Digitizing personnel files makes it easier to store documents without requiring additional physical space. This results in a higher quality of information, as digital data can be updated and organized more easily.
  • More transparency: The uniform management of digital files creates a more transparent structure. Information is consistent and more easily accessible, which significantly improves transparency in personnel management.
  • Saving on workload: Quick and location-independent access to digital personnel files significantly reduces manual work. Physical files no longer need to be carried from one place to another. This leads to a more efficient use of resources.
  • Lower printing and personnel costs: Digitalization eliminates the need for physical storage of files and the need for additional staff for records management. As a result, printing and personnel costs are also significantly reduced.
  • Better data protection: When you digitize personnel files, you can have greater control and ensure who can see them, which minimizes the risk of data breaches.
  • Crisis-proof: Digital personnel files are almost immune to complete data loss due to regular backups and data backup. In contrast, paper records are more susceptible to physical decay and can be damaged more easily in the event of unforeseen events.
  • More efficient personnel management: Digitalization leads to faster HR processes, which in turn increases employee satisfaction. Fewer delays and smoother processes contribute to an improved working environment.

What are the storage requirements for digitized personnel files?

Just as with personnel files in paper form, there are also legal retention periods for digital personnel files. In general, there is a right to store personal data as long as the employment relationship exists. However, information should be kept until the statutory limitation period has elapsed. This is three years. During this period, employees are able to make claims arising from the employment relationship retrospectively.

However, there is exemptions:

  • There is a retention period of six years for payroll tax documents.
  • Receipts of the minimum wage payment only need to be kept for two years.
  • Social security contributions must be kept for five years.

Wenn Sie Personalakten digitalisieren wollen, müssen Sie unbedingt auf den Datenschutz achten, also sichere Server, DSGVO-konforme Löschfristen und Rollenrechte, die regeln, wer welche Daten einsehen darf.
If you want to digitize personnel files, you absolutely have to pay attention to data protection, i.e. secure servers, GDPR-compliant deletion periods and role rights that regulate who can view which data.

Digitize personnel files: What to pay attention to?

If you want to start digitizing your personnel files, you must first choose the right software. Important questions that you should ask yourself are:

  • Is the software secure and compliant with data protection regulations?
  • How easy is it to integrate the software into existing systems?
  • What happens when your business grows?
  • How high are the costs?
  • What other features does the software offer?

Privacy Policy:

As soon as you save personal data, special care should be taken. This applies to both digital and paper-based personnel files. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG) regulate the handling of sensitive data. A personnel file usually contains information such as name, address, date of birth as well as marital status, certificates or religious affiliation.

The GDPR regulates that this form of personal data may only be stored for as long as there is a legitimate interest in doing so. However, there is also a storage obligation. In order to protect themselves from incorrect handling of personal data and any consequences, companies should rely on data protection-compliant software when digitizing their personnel files. Features such as anonymized deletion logs and user-defined access controls enable lawful use.

Scalability and integration options:

Always think one step ahead. Perhaps your company currently consists of just a few employees. But with the growth goals you have set for yourself, things can look completely different in a year. Select your database for managing personnel files with this prior knowledge. Make sure that solutions are scalable and provide interfaces to other systems. If you want to fully automate payroll payments in the future — due to the growing number of employees — an interface to a financial accounting system such as DATEV is essential.

Manage everything in one place:

Wouldn't it be ideal if you could digitize other processes in addition to digital personnel files and store them in the same tool? All-in-one software systems promise just that. Instead of working with silo solutions, you can use the software for different areas of your company.

In addition to digitizing personnel files, Ninox offers you many other functions. In addition to HR management, the Ninox database also includes risk and compliance solutions, field service management, CRM, map ERP and project management. So instead of relying on different providers, bundle all your resources in a central, GDPR-compliant location.

Digitize personnel files with Ninox: Here's how

With a SaaS solution in the cloud, such as Ninox, you can completely digitize your document management. Create a digital personnel file in just a few steps:

Step 1: Create a database for your digital personnel files

Use one of the many HR management templates in the Ninox database. To save master data, choose the “HR Master Data” template off. With just one click, the database is created and you can start maintaining personnel files right away. To do this, enter all of your employees' data and then save the file.

The easiest way to digitize personnel files is Ninox. Discover the benefits.

Step 2: Scan and file your documents

With a simple upload function, you can easily scan important documents such as contracts, certificates or attestations and upload them to Ninox. Digitizing personnel files is therefore very easy. Attach the file to the personnel file of the respective employee to bundle all important information.

Step 3: Define access rights

To restrict the handling of digital personnel files, you can assign certain access rights to your Ninox database. This prevents people from having access to data that is not intended for you.

Step 4: Use the analysis function in the dashboard

The visual presentation on the dashboard gives you a better overview of your personnel. For example, you can evaluate what the gender distribution in your company looks like or what the percentage of individual types of employment is. This overview provides valuable support in application management and thus helps you to manage HR efficiently.

Conclusion: Digital personnel files are mandatory for companies

The question of whether companies should keep digital personnel files has long been answered by legislators. But this obligation also offers many advantages for companies. HR processes run more efficiently, data is stored securely and even employee satisfaction is positively influenced. Instead of continuing to carry folders from one meeting to another, Ninox gives you the option of having access to your personnel files anytime and anywhere.

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