Peeriosity Insights: Recent Research Findings Summarized insights. To view detailed research results, contact us to inquire about membership.

Creating a Paperless HRSS Environment

While becoming a paperless operation is an important objective for the majority of HR Shared Services operations, actually accomplishing this can be a major challenge.  Legal and regulatory requirements in many countries across the world can be significant obstacles to overcome, with the use of innovative process design and technology often the keys to success, where feasible.

A recent Peeriosity PeercastTM featured a large construction materials company operating in the United States and Canada that over the past five years has made a concerted effort to significantly reduce the amount of paper flowing in their HR operation.  Some of the specific challenges faced by the company related to this project include the following:

  • Heavily Unionized (180+ Collective Bargaining Agreements)
  • State and Provincial Laws (40+) in the USA and Canada
  • 7,000+ Production Workforce
  • Plants Located in Remote / Rural Areas
  • Aging Workforce
  • Competing Projects

This company approached the paperless challenge in a very systematic manner, with major project milestones occurring every 12-18 months. 

  • 2011 – Electronic Delivery of Forms W-2 and T4
  • 2012 – Paperless Payroll
  • 2013-2014 – Case Management System and Employee Portal
  • 2015 – Electronic Performance Management (Evaluation and Goal Setting)
  • 2014-2016 – Time Capture Standardization / Automation
  • 2016 – Bringing Focus to Archived Hardcopy Documents

Carrying out an initiative of this magnitude required strong executive support, including business case approval at the Executive Committee level, alignment with HR governance, frequent meetings with regional business leaders, and executive support to mandate use where possible, such as with the payment card and employee portal.  Also critical to the success of this project was focused interaction with HR partners in the business units, the ability to review communication in advance, the use of cross-functional teams, which included representation by key users and managers at the business units, as well as the Labor Relations organization.

The feature company then shared specific details about their employee portal and case management system, along with information about their next areas of focus, which are expanded capabilities in both Manager Self-Service (MSS) and Employee Self-Service (ESS).  This information is available to Peeriosity members in the PeercastTM Results section of the member website, along with a recording of the entire presentation.

Looking at some related research generated using Peeriosity’s iPollingTM technology, this poll focused on reducing paperwork specifically in the Payroll area.  The first question focused on the current position of companies as it related to reducing paperwork in the Payroll process, with 66% indicating that they have either made great strides in this area (22%) or good progress (44%), both with continued pursuit of improvement opportunities.  Another 12% of the companies are aggressively pursuing several opportunities to improve in this area, while the remaining 22% also have identified a number of opportunities in reducing paper and pursuing these as time and resources permit.

iPolling: paperless HRSS environment | best description of the company's position with respect to reducing paperwork

The second poll question then looked at where the most significant opportunities exist in Payroll to reduce the level of paperwork.  Not surprisingly, the expansion of the use of paperless pay statements was the most popular response at 35%, followed by the expansion of the use of direct deposit at 18%, which is often a closely related effort at many companies.  Also, 18% of the responses was the reduction in the amount of paper flowing between Payroll and the rest of the HR organization, with 12% indicating that the reduction of paper within the Payroll process itself was the biggest opportunity for them.  Finally, expanded use of pay cards accounted for 12% and just 5% of the companies said that the expansion of ESS and MSS provided the most significant opportunity to reduce paperwork within Payroll.

iPolling: most significant opportunities exist in your company's payroll | paperless HRSS environment

Some of the poll comments from Peeriosity members are as follows:

Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Member: We are nearly paperless. Employees use electronic web forms to request services. Very little paper ever comes to or from Payroll. Our direct deposit could be higher (93%).

Computers & Electronics Member: Direct deposit is at 99%. Paperless is around 50%. Each quarter we send out a communication about “going green”. We normally see a bump in paperless of 2-4% as a result of the communication.

Media & Entertainment Member: Would love to be able to offer more self-service options to employees and managers.

Manufacturing Member: We are in the process of launching Manager Self Service, which will reduce paperwork further, as well as enhance the current process to paperless for transactions between HR and Payroll.

Manufacturing Member: Still have a number of employees receiving a mailed pay stub. Have been advocating for the exclusive use of online pay stubs.

Non-Profit Member: Very timely question as I just returned from meeting with our payroll manager and HR director responsible for employee communications. With much progress accomplished, our outstanding priorities for the ‘balance’ of progress are A) moving paper pay notifications (currently about 25% of our employees) to electronic … either link to the self-service site, or (in limited cases where such access is not possible), to include a protected PDF within an email, B) electronic-only delivery of W-2 forms, and C) electronic access to historic pay advice and W-2s by former employees.

What is the status at your company regarding the elimination of paper in the HRSS process areas?  Is it time to focus resources on taking your organization’s performance in this area to the next level?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

 “iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.

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