If your HR department is stuck in the paper age, it might be time to consider making the move to electronic documents. From employee preferences to cost savings and efficiencies, there are myriad reasons to embrace digital technology in Human Resources.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced almost one third of all workers to work from home. Many are still remote today. Because of this, digital delivery or physical mail may be your only options for getting materials into your employees’ hands. With Open Enrollment (OE) just around the corner for many companies, now is the perfect time to transition your OE guide from paper to the digital world.
Millennials make up 35% of the current US workforce, a number that is expected to increase to 75% by 2025. As the first digitally native generation, more than 93% of millennials have a smartphone and 19% of them are smartphone only internet users. That means they own a smartphone but do not have internet service at home.
They aren’t the only ones. The older generational groups are also embracing technology. Tablet ownership is now comparable across millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers, and 90% of Gen X and 68% of Baby Boomers own smartphones today.
Your employees are not only comfortable accessing information online. A CompTIA report shows two thirds of millennials consider an organization’s embrace of technology and innovation as an important factor when choosing an employer. A standard consumer experience is shaping the technology expectations for employers. Given Millennials and Gen Z connected with mobile technology and online tools at an early age, they want to work for organizations that are utilizing those same technologies in the workforce.
Convenient Searching and Updating
Digital has a long list of advantages over paper when it comes to document efficiency. First, digital files are easier to store than their paper counterparts, taking up bits and bytes on a server instead of physical space in a drawer or on a shelf.
They are also significantly easier to search. When an employee wants to see how many vacation days they are eligible for or what their copay is for a specialist office visit, an employee with a paper benefit guide must first retrieve the guide (if they can remember where they put it) or request a new copy. Then comes the task of flipping through 10, 20 or more pages to find the section containing the sought after information. Next is skimming headers and paragraphs to find the answer.
With a digital version, using a simple “Find” feature will quickly take them to the correct section of the guide. More advanced searching capabilities can even highlight relevant sections. Or the Table of Contents can include live links to each section of the document. These can in turn link to other relevant documents as well.
Enhanced search functionality is a benefit to your employees, but digital also offers efficiencies to the HR department too. What happens when a benefit changes mid year or you need to create a new guide for Open Enrollment? Paper guides require not only that new copies be printed and distributed to employees but also that copies of the old version be thrown out to prevent future circulation. By moving to a digital guide, a simple update can quickly provide the entire organization with the correct information.
Cutting Costs and Your Environmental Impact
There is also a large cost savings component to consider when weighing paper versus digital guides. The transition to a fully digital Open Enrollment guide means eliminating printing costs, whether you were printing in house or outsourcing the service.
For a company with multiple locations or branches, delivery cost savings should also be considered. With a digital document, it is no longer necessary to send copies of your guide out for managers to distribute to employees. A company wide email or use of a company intranet will provide immediate access to your workforce without any expense.
In the event an employee does want a paper copy, they can print a copy at home or ask their manager to provide one for them. Instead of printing hundreds or thousands of guides, copies will only be made for those who specifically want them.
As a bonus, the elimination of printing and mailing OE guides also means the reduction of your company’s carbon footprint, a change that benefits the entire planet. With a survey of 1,000 employees at large U.S. companies finding more than 70% were more likely to choose to work at a company with a strong environmental agenda, supporting sustainability is a win for your employees, your company and society as a whole.
Ease of Access
Whether you have employees working remotely or your entire workforce is onsite, digital documents are simply easier to access than paper. According to Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans today own a smartphone and 77% own a laptop or desktop computer. Transforming your Open Enrollment guide into a fully digital version will allow your employees to access their benefits information whether they are in the office, at home or traveling.
Digital documents also lend themselves to quick online translation into other languages. With nearly 22% of US residents speaking a foreign language at home, accessibility in multiple languages could be a benefit to many of your employees.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the speed of adoption of digital technologies by several years. Many employees became comfortable with digital collaboration and online technology while working to stay productive during the lockdowns. Remote workers may be returning to the office, but they are looking to employers to continue the tech savvy improvements they have become familiar with in the last two years.
When you also consider the cost savings and efficiencies of a digital guide, it’s hard to justify continuing to print paper copies. As you look toward your upcoming Open Enrollment season, take advantage of the benefits an electronic OE guide can offer both your company and your employees and switch to digital today.