9 key HR documents for efficient employee management
Ana RosaNovember 6, 20239 mins
From recruitment to offboarding, documentation is a constant, trustworthy record, capturing strategic interactions and decisions. Discover 9 key HR docs.
Human Resources (HR) departments assume a pivotal role in orchestrating employee well-being and organizational prosperity. Traditionally seen as those who would only show up to bring unwelcome news or for the company holiday party, HR has undergone a transformative shift in recent years, expanding its scope to encompass an array of strategic responsibilities.
HR departments more than ever play a central role in a company’s business operations, effectively balancing employee satisfaction and perspectives with the essential organizational growth, transcending the boundaries of their office spaces. Nonetheless, this indispensable department faces its own set of challenges, particularly concerning the paramount importance of documentation.
Unraveling the multifaceted role of HR departments
In many organizations, employees still associate the HR department with tasks and activities that strictly involve addressing unpleasant situations, including conflicts, layoffs, firing and other uncomfortable matters.
Due to the sensitivity of these subjects, employees may not interact with the HR department as frequently as with other departments unless they are directly involved. Therefore, the perception of human resources can easily be distorted, not showing entirely how much broader and positive the responsibilities are. In reality, HR professionals must skillfully balance numerous dimensions to effectively support both the company’s most valuable asset: its workforce and the organization’s overall established goals.
Let’s dive into some of the main responsibilities HR professionals are performing daily:
Talent acquisition: HR is responsible for identifying, selecting and recruiting top-qualified talent. From meticulously crafting job descriptions to conducting insightful interviews and evaluating candidates’ compatibility with the company’s culture.
New hires onboarding:HR takes the task of effectively onboarding new hires, providing them with essential information, resources, and tools for a seamless transition. Without proper onboarding, new employees might feel lost, increasing employee turnover and gradual decrease in productivity levels.
Compensation and benefits: Behind fair compensation structures and benefits packages, you will usually find an HR professional. They are the people in charge of overseeing whether the employees are fairly rewarded for their contributions and remarkable achievements to ensure a motivated and satisfied workforce.
Employee training and development initiatives: “Learning is an endless journey” was once famously stated by Poonam Raypure, emphasizing the fact that learning will never have an endpoint. HR departments may plan, design and coordinate comprehensive training programs in-house or by hiring external professionals. By implementing these initiatives, companies are empowering employees with continuous learning, broadening their skills to help them excel in their roles.
Manage employee relations:HR professionals serve as a bridge between employees and main management personalities, receiving, assessing and responding to concerns, conflicts and disciplinary issues. Serving as a main point of contact, they assist in maintaining a respectful, empathetic and supportive workplace environment.
Compliance:Compliance is one of the main pillars of success in today’s business world. By effectively managing it, companies can avoid penalties, fines and other legal complications. HR is tasked with ensuring that employment policies and best practices are followed by employment regulations.
Firing/Termination:In every organization, there comes a time when it has to take care of the offboarding of a certain employee. An employee may exit a company for various reasons, ranging from not fitting into the work culture to getting a better opportunity elsewhere. In either case, HR professionals are often tasked with a sendoff that allows employees to leave with dignity and protect the company’s interests, including conducting exit interviews and the delivery of the last paycheck.
How documentation is the foundation of every HR department
The saying “A Day in the life of any HR is never the same as the previous day.” perfectly captures the ever-changing and unpredictable nature of HR work. Wearing multiple hats, these experts navigate through a wide array of interactions, decisions and emotions intersecting, demanding a constant state of adaptability.
Documentation is – or should be – a priority for any human resources department as it serves as a comprehensive repository of employee information agreements and all types of communications. Meticulous record-keeping of documentation makes it easier for HR professionals to navigate effortlessly through employee relationships, performance assessments and compliance.
From the earliest stages of recruitment to the final steps of offboarding, documentation will be always present, acting as a trustworthy record, providing an accurate overview of every strategic interaction and decision whether it is about an employee or a department.
Benefits of efficient documentation for HR departments
Legal safeguard:Comprehensive and up-to-date documentation safeguards any organization against potential legal disputes and employment conflicts. As a single source of truth, it acts as a shield that also helps prevent potential disputes by ensuring that the organization’s actions are well-documented, transparent and aligned with legal requirements.
Decision support:Documentation is an utmost important factor for HR professionals in making informed decisions. As a reliable source of truth for assessing performance, analyzing employee growth, disciplinary actions and much more, it is a true game changer to any professional working in HR.
Easier onboarding and offboarding procedures:Streamlined documentation during onboarding ensures that new hires are equipped with all the necessary information, while offboarding ensures that smooth transitions take place and dignity for all parties involved.
Saves professionals’ time and effort:Over 21% of employees’ productivity per day is lost due to a lack of efficient documentation. By centralizing all the information, HR professionals are free to dig for hours into their emails or huge amounts of documents, which leaves time to focus on what truly matters: the workforce.
9 main types of HR documentation
HR professionals’ work requires meticulous record-keeping on a daily basis, ranging from employee onboarding and performance evaluation to employee training and employee relations. These documents not only facilitate smooth operations but also ensure legal compliance, accurate communication, and informed decision-making. Documenting such occurrences, whether positive or negative, is paramount as it can prove to be valuable in the future.
Let’s delve into the 9 main types of HR documentation that every business should implement.
Job descriptions are written documents that outline responsibilities, duties, qualifications and skills associated with a specific job role inside an organization. The job description should provide a clear and concise overview of what is expected from the employee to succeed in the vacant position. A well-crafted job description helps companies to attract suitable candidates as well as set a foundation for future performance assessment.
When searching for a job, candidates can customize their CVs and cover letters to highlight relevant achievements and skills to meet the requirements in the job description, thus increasing the chances of getting noticed in the competitive job market. During interviews, they’re able to sound more confident as they have learned detailed information in the job description. They can also assess if the compensation in the job offer – of course, if included – meets their expectations.
An employment contract, known also as an employment agreement or job contract, is a legally binding written contract that sets out the employee’s employment conditions, responsibilities, duties, compensation and rights of both the employee and the employer. It should leave no room for misunderstandings and miscommunication. To make it valid, both the employee and the employer must sign the employment agreement before the new hire starts working for the company.
Employment contracts may vary in complexity and detail. However, there is essential information that needs to be covered in this document. Some of these include:
Hiring new talent encompasses multiple stages, each contributing to ensuring that the most suitable candidate gets chosen from a pool of talent. From candidate screening, interviewing, meeting and selecting to onboarding, official documentation is an integral aspect of the hiring process, for recording carefully the steps already taken and those waiting ahead.
Performance appraisal documents, also known as employee performance reviews or evaluations, are formal records used by HR professionals and managers. They assess an employee’s job performance over a specific period. These documents outline in a structured manner the employee’s achievements, contributions and potential growth opportunities. Therefore, they can be extremely useful for making decisions related to training opportunities, salary raises and promotions.
For employees, these formal evaluations provide insights to get a better understanding of the company’s expectations and whether their performance matches these expectations or not. Performance appraisal documents include:
performance management process description/guide
performance review template
performance improvement plan (for an employee)
performance appraisal letter
performance warning letter.
📝 Note: Questionnaires, forms and meeting notes are often signed off on and stored as benchmarks for future evaluations.
An employee handbook is a comprehensive, written document that outlines the organization’s policies, mission, culture, values and benefits. This handbook can be considered a “living document” because it should be continuously built and maintained. All new hires should receive an employee handbook on their firstday of work and existing employees should also have access to a copy whenever the document is updated.
Legally, companies are not obliged to have an employee handbook and printed handbooks in 2023 are almost non-existent and not environmentally friendly. More than ever, companies are gradually moving towards digital files that can be shared electronically, and are conveniently accessible for everyone. Therefore, each employee must acknowledge that they have carefully read the book and commit to following the outline policies – which can help improve employees’satisfaction, motivation and burnout prevention.
An employee compensation package, also known as a comp plan, consists of the compensation, bonuses, stock options and benefits plan that an employer gives to an employee in exchange for the employee’s service. The terms and conditions between the two parties, employee and employer, are outlined in these formal documents, including typical confidentiality and non-compete clauses.
Successful companies apply employee motivation initiatives to ensure their satisfaction and productivity. Compensation is one means among many for HR departments to boost employee morale and dedication. Here are some common types of employee compensation documents:
salary structure description
description of the components of the compensation package
Effective employee documentation management, which ensures that workers’ information is properly organized and accessible, plays a crucial role in supporting a smooth onboarding process. It enables employees to easily understand the company’s standards and direction, and employers to make informed decisions.
Onboarding documents represent the set of documents that new hires should receive upon joining a company. Typically, it includes paperwork to be filled in, company tools, processes, policies, training materials and an outline of expectations for onboarding new hires effectively. Onboarding is a critical phase that goes beyond administrative tasks; By effectively implementing it, companies can enhance employee retention by 82% and enable new hires to get up to speed and productive as quickly as possible.
As the accumulation of such documentation can be significant, adopting a digital, paperless format greatly benefits both new employees and HR professionals. The onboarding procedure includes documents like:
employee induction document
template for announcing a new employee (e-mail)
employee welcome e-mail template
new hire checklist
job offer email, to be used together with a formal job offer document
Employee management is essential for a well-functioning HR department and overall organization. In short, it is the process of storing, filing and organizing accurate employee data records collected throughout their time in the organization, from hiring to retirement. Easy access to and effective management of these strategic data points can help companies not only track employee performance and productivity but also develop more efficient HR policies and provide a foundation for future decision-making.
Typical employee management and recordkeeping documents include:
In every organization, there comes a time when a certain employee must be offboarded. An employee may exit a company for various reasons, ranging from not fitting into the work culture to getting a better opportunity elsewhere. In either case, HR professionals are often tasked with a sendoff that allows employees to leave with dignity and protect the company’s interests.
A recent study by Aberdeen found that following a well-structured exit process was linked to significant improvements in growth, performance, retention and employee engagement. Still, only 29% of organizations have a formal exit process.
The specific documents for an exit procedure may vary depending on the company, but typically they include:
Ana is a marketing specialist at Documill. Her experience covers various aspects of marketing, including content marketing, social media, SEO and design. She firmly believes in the power of data-driven decision-making and the importance of staying ahead of industry trends.