One of the primary responsibilities of the HR department is to maintain employee records and regularly keep them updated. It is not just a good practice but it is also made mandatory by the law. These records help companies gather and analyze comprehensive information about their workforce at a micro as well as macro level.
Apart from the legal implications, maintaining accurate and updated employee records helps employers save time while performing administrative duties. These details can also come in handy during the recruitment process, identifying gaps in skills, availability of resources or at the time of separation. It is important to have acute understanding of available human resources to efficiently administer their business and maintain productivity.
What types of employee records should be maintained
Ideally the most sought for information should be available easily. While the attributes for this section may vary for each company, the most common ones are listed below. Designation of employees in the workplace. Who do they report to? Or do they have anyone reporting to them? Which teams are they associated with? At times, an individual can be associated with multiple teams, if need be.
This information is not only relevant to the HR team but also executives, project management teams & peers. It can help in making quick decisions about escalation hierarchy, information flow etc
Consider the following profile of a fictional employee John McClane, to get a better understanding of how this section would look like:
- Designation – Product Marketing Manager
- Manager – Hans Gruber
- Teams – Marketing, Sales
- Direct Reports – Meriadoc Brandybuck, Peregrin Took
These are basic details that need to maintained in order to formulate and review personnel policies and procedures. It gives a background about the employee’s personal attributes, demographic information and essential identity proofs that are required to be recorded as per the law.
While this information is important, it is not relevant at all times. In fact, more often than not this data is legally necessary. But additionally, it can also help HR teams analyse their resources based on different demographic criterion. e.g. if diversity is of prime importance for an organisation, they can use the nationality attribute to analyse.
- Name – John McClane
- Age – 31
- Birth date – 31st October 1986
- Gender – Male
- Marital status – Unmarried
- Nationality – U.S. citizen
- Blood Group – AB+
- Educational Qualification – MBA (Marketing)
- Permanent Address – 20 Ingram Street, Queens
- Passport number – XXXXX007
- PAN Details – XXXXXXX666
- Country specific identity proof – NA
Workplace laws require employers to maintain updated employee contact details at all times. For any correspondence, employers should be able to contact their employees through via phone, email or in-person. In case of emergencies, it is necessary to have information about who is the right person to be contacted and how best to reach them.
- Contact number – XXXXXXX666
- Email address – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Address for correspondence – 20 Ingram Street, Queens
- Emergency contact number – XXXXXXX221
- Emergency contact person – Mary Jane
- Relation with emergency contact person – Fiance
- Mediclaim details provided – Yes
Employment records consist of details about employee’s past experience, date of joining the current organization and referrals from previous managers and colleagues (if any). Other information such as employee id number, work week and leave policies are also recorded in this section. Even bank details are recorded here through which employees receive their salaries.
This section server pure administrative purpose & is not looked at too often. Having said that, if you are looking to track advanced HR metrics (such as relationship between attrition rate at a certain experience level etc) this section will hold important pieces of information for you.
- Employee Identification Code – MI6-007
- Employment Type – Permanent
- Employment Status – Active
- Date of Joining – 1st April 2014
- Name of Bank – ACME Corp.
- Bank Account number – XXXXXXXXXX2018
- IFSC code – XXXXXX003
- Work week – Monday to Friday
- Last day of working – NA
While assigning employees to new projects or adding additional resources to existing ones, this information can help to determine individuals who do not currently have work assigned to them or those who have the capacity to take on additional workload. They can quickly be shifted to the newer requirement without wasting time so that productivity is not hampered and work continues uninterrupted.
These records would consist of information that is relevant to his or her current role in the organization such as:
- Job description – Brand promotion, Digital Advertising, Sales Promotion
- Skills and expertise – Grievance Slayer, Negotiation Ninja
- Location – New York
- Current Projects – Manhattan Project
Different regions have different compliance laws when it comes to maintaining payroll records. In some areas it may be made mandatory by law to store these details, while the rest may not have such strict requirements.
For example, in the United States, under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the state labor laws, companies are required to document reasons for decisions, so payroll information needs to made readily available whenever required.
Training and development:
Employees need to be properly trained and developed to ensure they are performing to their maximum potential and have the right skills to perform their responsibilities efficiently. They should be capable of functioning with minimal guidance while also having a clear picture of what is the outcome expected of their actions.
Keeping an accurate record of what training has been provided and what are the current skill sets of the employee helps the company in many ways. They can decide whether the employee can be given more responsibilities to match their skills or should they be further trained to take on more managerial roles. These records help to ensure employees become competent in other areas apart from their basic duties.
Awards and achievements:
Recognition is one of the most powerful performance enhancers. Whenever employees perform exceptionally well and achieve greater milestones, they are bound to be recognized for their performance. Employers need to keep track of these awards and achievements and acknowledge them during performance evaluations. They may even be awarded for their efforts. It is necessary to note here that often employees get disgruntled when their achievements are not considered during their review process. This mostly happens due to not keeping a record of achievements throughout the year. Thus, inadvertently managers tend to forget to take these into account while appraising the performance and employees miss out on reaping the benefits of their efforts. It is one of the primary reasons employees leave organization.
Who should have access to employee records:
Much of the information, such as employment details, is generic and can be made available to all other team members, managers in addition to the HR team. Although certain details, such as medical records should only be accessed by the HR team as it can possibly contain confidential information. Individuals will not appreciate personal details about their illnesses being shared across the entire organization. Medical records thus are liable to receive the highest degree of confidentiality.
In certain regions, information such as religion or ethnicity is not required to be shared. Yet if any company still demands it, the individual can sue them according to that region’s laws.
To summarize, define a structure and limit access to information depending on the type of information and the level of authority of the individual. Companies that promote transparency in their culture, would do well to understand the difference between information that can be shared and information that categorically can’t be shared.
Bonus: How to manage these employee records efficiently:
The first and foremost step is to eliminate the need to store physical documents of these records. When you have tons of papers to store, it gets difficult to efficiently organize, analyze or retrieve them at a moment’s notice.
The best way to go about it is to not let this process become an administrative burden. Maintain up-to-date employee records through use of core HR tools.