eSignature Technology is Keeping HR Teams Working Remotely

eSignature Technology is Keeping HR Teams Working Remotely

Digital signatures are now being integrated with HR systems to help HR teams to support them during the remote workflow and streamline business processes during COVID-19 pandemic.

Jim Rapoza, the director of research at Aberdeen said that “even before the COVID-19 pandemic, paperwork reduced the work speed and productivity.”Her further added that "But with workplace shutdowns, HR functions interrupted by manual steps and paper processes are difficult—if not impossible—to carry out now."

By shifting from an in-office environment to working remotely from home suddenly is a huge challenge for every employee, especially for HR when they are typically taking interviews, doing onborading, or creating payrolls of employees. Digital signature solutions have helped businesses to evolve into the new remote-work or work from home environment as users don’t have to visit the person for taking signatures. This has resulted in increased business productivity and workflow.

Comeau has been working remotely since March. Having an e-signature option was critical when working with and onboarding new hires, she said.

Aberdeen found that the top driver behind modernizing HR document processes is employees spending way too much time completing tasks. "Things that could be done in minutes take hours or days, resulting in delays and lost productivity," Rapoza said. "The volume of requests coming into HR is also growing, putting limits on legacy technology infrastructure not designed for remote work." 

Comeau said that her team manages offer letters, employment agreements and other aspects of talent acquisition and "doesn't have a lot of time to be spending on paperwork. Applicant tracking systems have evolved to push through more candidates, which helps us close time to fill, but it means there is a lot more paperwork to get out in a shorter amount of time to be competitive."

In a recent Aberdeen case study, a large financial firm that adopted e-signatures saw turnaround for signed documents go from an average of several days to under 20 minutes. "Previously, people were waiting for documents to be faxed or mailed," Rapoza said.

Comeau uses Adobe Sign, which was integrated with Workday, the company's HR management system. "Productivity on our team has gone up significantly, as we're not having to go through as many approvals outside our core HR system and we're able to push out offer agreements quicker," she said.

Being able to integrate with HR systems is key, Rapoza said. "If I have to leave my HR system to get an e-signature from an external tool, that is totally unnecessary. A single-click solution speeds processes and increases agility for HR, lowers costs and improves productivity."

He recommended that employers implement e-signatures for high-volume processes "where you will see the most value-add, then focus on the next highest value-add process, and so on. You'll see the benefit immediately."

Compliance Standards

The U.S. Congress passed the E-Sign Act in 2000, recognizing that electronic signatures carry the same legal status as physical signatures, but some businesses are still wary of their validity, explained Jesse Wood, the president and CEO of eFileCabinet, an electronic document management company based in Lehi, Utah.

The E-Sign Act states that e-signatures with the signer's consent are just as valid as their paper equivalents, and therefore subject to the same legal scrutiny of authenticity that applies to paper documents, which means that maintaining compliance standards is important to ensure their legitimacy.

"While electronic signature capabilities are available in a wide range of business software, including in PDF readers, for a fully compliant electronic signature there are several factors that need to be considered when choosing a platform," Wood said.

These include:

  • Being able to verify signers through multiple identifiers, including IP address.
  • Sending a consent form in addition to the documents to confirm that the signature is an affirmative act.
  • Securing the documents and e-signatures to ensure authenticity and guard against the possibility of tampering.
  • Providing easy access to the signed document to all parties involved.

"The most important part is being able to prove that the e-signature is legitimate and that all standards have been met," Wood said. "It's why electronic signatures need to be accompanied by indelible documentation that a legitimate transaction occurred. Every time a signature is created, an unalterable audit trail which tells a complete history of the document needs to be generated and stored."

Many compliance standards and regulatory bodies require multifactor authentication methods for e-signatures, including answering a set of questions based on the signer's personal identifying information and inputting a randomly generated code via text.

Here are five simple strategies to support your HR team to take advantage of digital tools - without little (or no) change to existing company processes.

  1. Automation

More than half of all HR work could be automated, according to an analysis from the McKinsey Global Institute. Almost more than half of the HR work can be automated, says an analysis by McKinsey Global Institute. A research reported that around 56% of the “hire-to-retire” work can be easily automated for better business results. This means moving above paper processes to technology-driven innovations for routine tasks.

The HR Life Cycle Model divides an employee’s work experience into these main categories:

  • Recruiting and Onboarding
  • Orientation and Career Planning
  • Career Development
  • Termination or Transition

Each of these intersections must be seamless, and HR is central to fulfilling this need. HR professionals should be able to watch these processes to flag concerns and suggest improvements. 

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All of these intersections are seamless and HR is central for catering to these needs. HRs can easily look at all the processes and they can also suggest improvements. Apart from this, they should also have the space to look after complex queries from employees. In this situation, automation can be proven beneficial by reducing HR’s workload and managing more mundane tasks. This automation can also save time, cost related with paper usage, and ramp up productivity.

  1. Ditch the Paperwork for Digital Signatures

On an average, each firm uses approximately 10,000 papers each year for legal documentation; which is equivalent to a small tree. Not only this, but a research from AIIM studied the volume of paper used for basic functions. The report

Not only that, but an AIIM study investigated the volume of paper usage for basic HR functions. The reports concluded following percentages:

  • Recruiting and selection = 35%
  • Employee on boarding = 48%
  • Employee file management = 53%
  • Policies and procedures administration = 32%
  • Employee separation = 48% 

Although the HR automation is not a new concept, there are still various processes that are paper-based, costing significant timings and money to many companies, especially HR. Following traditional ways for doing business usually results in long-drawn and time consuming processes. Taking on-boarding as an example. As per statistics, on-boarding programme means that around 70% new hires or employees will like to stay with your company for three years or more.

On the other hand, 22% of staff recruiting takes place in 45 days of employment, whereas if the on-boarding is poor: 33% of new hires will change the job within first six months.

Moreover, maintenance of paper-based business operations also increases the costs. Reports suggest that paperless offices can easily save up to $32,000 every year. So elimination of paper is a better option for your bottom line, and it also offers immediate efficiency boost. Digital signature is not a new concept and they are gaining popularity in varies industries over the years. Various factors are forcing organizations to adopt digital signatures for boosting business processes and sales. And it is expected that this market will be growing exponentially in upcoming years. Digital signature includes:

  • Offer letters
  • Contracts
  • Registration and on boarding

The digital signature platforms are designed to eliminate frauds and offer safe ways to digitally sign documents with higher level of security. The online signing technology converts any paper document into electronic format. In case of new hiring, employees can sign documents easily.

The signing software’s Form Direct feature will convert any paper document to an electronic format. In the case of new hires, employees can view and sign contracts from their mobile devices. So they can easily confirm their basic as well as advanced details.

  1. Online Employee Surveys

Employee engagement surveys have a bad reputation.

Around 3000 HR executives were polled on the success of their firm’s employee engagement surveys.

Surveys were not being conducted regularly, with over 30% of respondents citing this as a concern. Even worse, 31% of respondents reported unchanged survey scores.

This is worrying - and a wasted opportunity.

Research shows a strong connection between higher employee engagement and employee’s confidence in the firm’s future, according to an IBM report. The study was conducted across 19 countries, including Australia. It revealed employees were more likely to engage if they felt their contribution was valued, and believed there was room for growth within the company.

When you get it right, employee surveys have the power to help craft a better workplace.

Companies with a formal engagement strategy are 67% more likely to improve their revenue on a year-one-year basis, according to an Aberdeen study. 

Pulse surveys (short, regular surveys) have been put forward as a better option to annual surveys. Software like Qualtrics lets you conduct pulse surveys to measure sentiment and monitor projects.

  1. Performance appraisals

A study revealed that around 95% of HR professionals are regarded with fear of review time. This usually involved emails, follow-ups, delayed submissions as HR also have to ensure that employees and manager have completed the manual review process.

Traditional physical or paper-based performance appraisal resulted in increased preparation time, including mailing and printing. This doesn’t conclude that you have to eliminate all the reviews processes together.

There are various online platforms that offers multiple digital ways to complete and submit reviews through electronic portals or forms.

  1. Social Media Scheduling

By posting and targeting posts on social media, HRs can easily reduce the print advertising cost for businesses. More than 79% of job seekers prefer social media to search for desired jobs, resulting in 86% increase in younger candidates. Now HRs have also begun to grasp the benefits of social media’s reach to tap into a larger pool of talents form every corner of the globe.

While this task may sound beneficial for recruiters, but it can also be considered as another task in HR’s list of daily tasks.

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But thankfully, it doesn’t have to be in this way. There are various social media scheduling tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer to easily schedule a whole batch of posts. If you have multiple vacancies in your office, create ads and set up scheduling. This software automatically posts on social media on your behalf. You can even set automated responses and allocate a specific day to go through the messages.


HR receives a range of dynamic requests from employees and management, placing increasing demands on their time.

HR tech tools help to automate administrative tasks, giving HR professionals more time to invest in building experiences to attract - and retain - top talent.