Paper Records Versus Electronic Employee Files


In the age of digitalization, it is often assumed that paper records are a thing of the past. However, there are many benefits to keeping employee files on paper instead of switching to an electronic system. 

Paper records are easier to access and organize, less likely to be lost or corrupted, and provide a physical backup in disaster. In addition, research has shown that people retain information better when they read it on paper rather than screens. 

For these reasons, employee files should not be dismissed as outdated but should be embraced as an important part of any record-keeping system. On the other hand, electronic records also have their advantages and disadvantages. Read on to learn more about both. 

Pros and Cons of Paper Records

When employee files are on paper, many people discover that finding them is simpler. In many ways, they are simpler to manage and view. Employee records on paper are also usually kept on-site; many believe they are simpler to protect than digital files. Many businesses and their clients value the fact that persons outside the premises cannot access paper data at a time when digital hacking is becoming more and more common.

Despite the aforementioned advantages, there are some significant drawbacks to paper recordkeeping. This includes how much space needed to store paper documents may become prohibitive when businesses expand. It’s also possible that you won’t be able to keep all your records on-site. Fire or theft are two potential possibilities.

It’s crucial to examine your unique demands as you compare the paper to digital and research how long to maintain information. A combination of paper and digital may be effective if you are a small provider. Larger providers will likely value the convenience of going digital. The go-to resource for managing records retention is Information Requirements Clearinghouse.

Pros and Cons of Electronic Records

Many people worry about how long documents should be kept. The amount of space needed to store employee files is considerable, even if you decide to stick with a short period. With digital records, you can save a wide range of documents without even realizing it. It requires much less labor, yet another benefit of adopting digital storage. Your team will deal with records in a fraction of the time it normally takes, which can result in significant labor cost savings.

Going digital has some drawbacks in addition to the benefits already mentioned. You risk getting the software you use infected, hacked, or otherwise ruined. When initially converting to digital storage, there is also a sizable upfront cost to consider.

Differences Between Paper Records and Electronic Records

The world is increasingly becoming digital, including how we store and manage information. These days, more and more organizations are moving away from employee files on paper in favor of electronic records. But what exactly are the differences between these two types of records? Let’s take a closer look

1. The variety of electronic documents is larger than paper documents 

All examples of paper documents are ledgers, personnel files, notes, memoranda, letters, articles, papers, photos, etc. This variant is also available digitally. But then, a ledger is much simpler than a spreadsheet. They can function as databases, contain formulas, and possibly even charts. 

The electronic spreadsheet permits experimenting with what-if versions the discoverer may want to study, in addition to all other information, graphics, and the opportunity to view the actual computations involved, formulae. Electronic discovery is possible on PDAs, pocket PCs, palm devices, and BlackBerry handsets. Emails can be sent and received using many of these devices. Parties may demand discovery of the contents of PDAs because an email deleted from a network may still be present on a specific employee’s PDA.

2. Electronic documents contain attributes lacking in paper documents 

The “metadata” that computers save about your documents includes the author’s name, the document’s creation date, the most recent access date, etc. The document’s metadata cannot be seen in a printed version, though some metadata elements may be. The metadata gathered about that document may change depending on what you do with it after opening it on your computer screen. Employee files on paper have never been this complicated.

3. Electronic documents last longer than paper documents

Employee files on paper can be damaged by fire and flood because paper deteriorates over time. Although these issues have analogs in electronic papers – for instance, a flooded computer loses its data, backup procedures save copies of the documents elsewhere than the “office.” Although paper documents may receive the same treatment, the frequency, scope, and usage of such backups are much less common. 

Technology advancements negatively affect electronic documents. Finding a tool to read a document created ten years ago with a unique word processor, such as WordStar, will be challenging. The same is true for databases, spreadsheets, etc. Once more, most businesses follow procedures that prevent this problem by modifying documents over time.

Get Organized with Professional Assistance from RDS Team

The decision to go paperless or not is a complicated one, with many factors to consider. Ultimately, it’s up to each business owner to decide what will work best for their company. However, if you store your employee files digitally, there are some important things to keep in mind to ensure the transition goes smoothly. RDS Team can help you with every step, from developing a plan to implementing it and providing ongoing support through our DocuWare for employee management. Contact us today at 877-959-2234 to learn more about how we can help you get organized and increase efficiency in your workplace.


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