Is your HR department still using paper?

Last month when I was visiting Hawaii, a friend gave me a US check for money that she owed me. Without giving it a second thought, I placed it in my wallet and carried it back with me to New Zealand. I didn't realize that I wouldn't be able to deposit it into my New Zealand bank without avoiding a poor exchange rate and long processing time. However, playing around with an app on my phone, I learned that I could take a picture of it and electronically deposit into my US bank account. I snapped a picture of the front and back, submitted it and destroyed the physical copy. Within three days, the cash was available in my bank account. Now, that is innovation. 

Being in HR for as long as I have, I've seen or visited many HR departments that were filled with lots of paper. Employee files, performance reviews, forms for forms, offer letters, employee contracts and the list just goes on. It made me wonder why Human Resource departments have not completely automated their processes or removed paper all together. If technology exits to deposit an actual check into a bank, surely we can eliminate paper across HR and organizations. 

Simply put, we can! The HR technology has existed for years to allow for a completely paperless environment. Saving you salary expenses, your time and the value of having information at your finger tips could be created. From the time an applicant applies for a job using your recruitment system and they are hired, all of their information and electronic forms could be sent for the new employee to complete or sign electronically. Once they do, it could automatically create a digital employee file. Information could also be electronically sent to any other department as needed, outsourced payroll provider or the appropriate government agency. 

So the question that comes to mind is why haven't many HR departments taken this shift and adapted modern technology with their HR processes? The bigger question is why are HR departments one of the few functions that have not evolved into the modern world? They seem to still be operating the way they did 20 years ago. 

I know this is a big question that really can't be answered in a blog and it should be given the appropriate space for a debate. However, I'm still going to sum it up with one or two sentences that might get me into trouble. Ready... HR, really is a function that has operated in the back room for so long that they have trouble seeing the light and the new ways of the future. HR people really do struggle with change and technology and often aren't one of the most innovative functions within organizations. This is why it's an important skill for HR professionals to learn to be more innovative, become trendsetters and really think outside the box when it comes to acting strategically around ways to move their organizations forward.