Importance of Employee Documentation

Employee documentation is important for several reasons. Documentation justifies employment actions, from recruitment and selection to resignation, retirement or termination. Training and development and compensation and benefits are parts of employee documentation as well. Maintaining accurate and complete documentation supports human resources objectives, such as succession planning and promoting from within. Employee documentation, when prepared carefully, confidentially and according to company policies, is the backbone of a human resources department.

Recruitment and Selection

Even if your recruitment and selection process starts with online application submission via an applicant tracking system, documentation is still an important component of the hiring process. At a minimum, the hiring process includes preliminary telephone screenings, face-to-face interviews and interviewer evaluations. Documentation is essential to this process--taking notes during personal interviews is practically a requirement to help make a wise hiring decision. In addition, if you want to pass along a candidate's qualifications to another hiring manager, it helps to share your interview notes. Interview notes contain your personal assessments and opinions. Therefore, unless notes from the recruitment and interview process contain test scores or restate certain facts about the candidate's skill set, this type of documentation does not usually become part of the personnel file. Importantly, employee documentation also substantiates employment eligibility.

Employee Training and Development

Documenting employee performance is important for maintaining job satisfaction, productivity and engagement. Your performance management system includes a number of components, such as job descriptions, informal feedback, training, disciplinary action and annual performance evaluations. All of these components require documentation for your performance management system to stay on track. Lack of documentation is close to lack of communication in this area. Employees depend on feedback to inspire motivation and raise employee morale. Without documentation, employees lack the tools necessary to meet the employer's expectations.

Compensation and Benefits

Employee documentation is an essential element of your compensation and benefits structure. Without this type of documentation, it is impossible to track employee wages, merit increases, year-end bonuses and mandatory and voluntary deductions. Documentation also maintains employee benefits status, such as health care options, dependent care and flexible spending accounts. The payroll division records much of the employee documentation in this area; however, your privacy officer has exclusive access to all medical-related documentation to preserve the confidential nature of employee information.

Employment End

When an employee's tenure with the company comes to an end, documentation is extremely important. Regardless of the reason, you must prepare and file paperwork that documents this employment action. If you terminate an employee, documentation will justify your decision. Employee discharge related to poor performance, policy violations or gross misconduct require documentation to support the involuntary termination. Should the employee decide to file a complaint for wrongful discharge, documentation can protect your company assets if the complaint escalates to litigation. If an employee retires or resigns, documentation is necessary for continuing health and income benefits.

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About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition, she is a certified facilitator for the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmarks 360 Assessment Suite, and is a Logical Operations Modern Classroom Certified Trainer . Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.