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digital employee files

Digital employee files are banks of online data pertaining to employees working in an organization. The information stored in the electronic files is often found in HR information systems (HRIS), which record employee data and store it for other people such as leaders, HR and employees themselves to access.

Digital employee files can contain a lot of different HR-related data, which can be used to manage the workforce and be the source of HR analytics. This article discusses what is usually included in a digital employee file, how these files can be used, and the benefits of having digital employee files in your workplace.

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What is Included in a Digital Employee File?

Digital employee files are one stop shop repository for most – if not all – employee data. Very often, permissions are applied to digital employee files to give access to people in different roles: self-service portals (data the employee can access and manage themselves), HR administration (comprehensive employee data accessed by human resources teams), and leadership or management files (employee data managed or available to the employee’s manager).

Self-service portals are used for various activities such as managing leave and other absences, as well as viewing pay slips. Scanned documents and employee forms, such as contracts or disciplinary records can also be viewed (but not edited or removed) by the employee. In some systems, employees can access training courses remotely via their digital files, as well as self-evaluation tools and managing internal résumés.

Document management systems offer managers the tools needed for managing and editing performance management documents such as appraisals, approving and accessing absence or leave records, viewing or assigning training, viewing productivity or efficiency measurements, releasing contracts, viewing wages and payroll information, and uploading an electronic document. Managers can also use these data systems to manage recruitment processes.

HR files are very similar to leadership files but will have additional access to sensitive data such as employee personal information, bank details, archiving leavers, and utilizing reporting tools to compare whole organizations rather than just a specific department or person. HR could also access onboarding and offboarding data, such as editing new starter forms and labor turnover reporting. HR can use the system to launch employee surveys and store and update the data from them as well.

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Employee data all in one place

Whatever data your organization chooses to include in digital employee files, it helps to be as comprehensive as possible. Digital employee files ensure that your employee’s data is in one place and therefore easily accessible and straightforward to organize, with simplified security and privacy controls, compared to storing data across multiple HR management systems. Virtual data storage inevitably means less paperwork and bureaucracy, and increased versatility of analytical tools and reporting functionality. Managing data in a management system enables organizations to streamline business processes and avoid document scanning.

A strategic tool for HR managers

Digital employee files offer more advantages than just easy storage, quick data retrieval, securitization, and access to employee data. Managers and HR teams will be able to use this wealth of centralized virtual data to create detailed strategic plans which can be built on accurate data and metrics. Digital employee files are therefore a critical component of long-term strategic human resource management.

Internal communication

Digital employee files can show in a simple or easy-to-digest way how certain information is relevant to teams. Goal setting can be brought online, and shared targets can therefore be publicly posted and discussed. Certain non-confidential data, such as anonymous staff feedback, employee engagement survey scores, and vacation schedules can all be shared on dashboards connected to the data, ensuring relevant team members know what is going on, with pertinent information updated in real-time.

Access documents and data

Accessing information is straightforward when using digital employee files. Employee data is stored online in searchable digital documents and doesn’t require someone from HR to flick through a physical document of paper files to find what is needed. Retrieving and accessing reports, data, and documents is completed with a couple of clicks of a mouse and can be delivered instantaneously, in a variety of formats, again depending on what is needed. Access to this data is easy to control, through setting permissions and hierarchies in the HRIS connected to the data.

Compliant data management

One of the most common concerns any manager or HR leader might have when large amounts of employee data are collected online is that it is stored diligently and securely and in accordance with local and international laws and requirements.

Digital employee files are controlled via systems and encryption tools that are regulated by service providers who will manage confidentiality and data protection regulations directly, informing customers who use the data how it works and what needs to be done. This regulatory compliance ensures peace of mind for employees who will be entrusting their employers with their data.

Advantages of Digital Employee Files

Digital employee files bring a wealth of benefits to organizations, some of which have been covered already. The three principal advantages which can make a big difference to employee data management are ease of access, efficiencies, and accuracy of data.

Easy access to employee data

Digital employee files are well-secured from unauthorized access, but if you have the right permissions, accessing and managing the information is exceptionally easy, improving the accessibility of personnel files. Cloud-based, paperless storage means that folders of data can be accessed anywhere, often even with mobile access. This makes it possible to electronically access personnel records from the office or at home, compared to a filing cabinet filled with paper documents that are fixed in one spot. Having electronic documents simplifies the process of accessing employee data with remote work.

One password and two-step verification will grant secure access to the digital document and wherever information is needed. Data dashboards are usually easy to use and are customizable, so individual users can view and retrieve information in ways that suit their own needs and styles. Self-service data management means that employees can access and manage important documents of their own data without relying on HR to do it for them, which is not only easier and quicker but might give them peace of mind as well. Just another reason to become a paperless office.

Efficient employee data management

The reporting functionality of digital employee records is unparalleled. The large amounts of employee data available online means that managing and organizing this data is straightforward. The online document system also makes reporting and recordkeeping easy.

Digital employee files can be updated instantly, with absence and vacation being recorded as it occurs, and other productivity measures being closed and recorded at least daily. Forms, such as performance reviews or disciplinary records can be uploaded as soon as they are finalized with an electronic filing system. What this means is that electronic forms can be reported whenever it is needed, with accurate information able to be requested at a moment’s notice. 

A single record of truth

Digital employee files, if used for most HR needs, will be the preeminent HR record for organizations. HRIS integration means that digitally stored data will be an accurate and singular representation of information. There will be clear a audit-trail and access to history if needed in auditing, simplifying records management.

Digital employee files are therefore extremely accurate. The instantaneous nature of data importing means that information is true and always up to date. Digital data makes record keeping hard to argue with, and a useful source of information for both employees and the wider organization.


Digital employee files make the management of HR and employee data a lot easier than file cabinets filled with unstructured paper files or multiple systems in need of coordination and various areas of expertise. Document management does not have to be complicated with a document management solution that provides digital employee files.

Information gleaned from digital files is accurate, timely, and easy to access. Digital employee files can be used not only to consolidate information, but allows HR to strategically plan, communicate information to groups of people and departments, and assist managers in seamlessly retrieving information. Interweaving digital employee files with your HR system can ensure your HR function is streamlined, agile, and covers the entire employee lifecycle, from recruitment to offboarding.

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