Keeping Employee Records Organized

Small business owners have to take on many different roles to keep their businesses running. Human resources management is one of the most important, and often overlooked, areas that a lot of business owners have to handle themselves. Properly maintaining personnel files is an important key to success.

Keeping good employee records is important to many different aspects of your small business. Salaries, benefits, important dates, job reviews and government forms all need to kept together in organized personnel files, and should be available quickly and easily. For an itemized list of things that should and shouldn’t be kept in personnel files, check out this list on  

At Carpenter, Evert and Associates, we have simplified our employee record-keeping into three main parts. The old paper personnel files are gone, and everything is stored in secure electronic employee record files on our computer server. The system includes:

1. Human Resources Folder – create a main human resources folder. The Human Resources Folder will contain folders for each employee, payroll records, and general human resources information.

Make a folder for each employee’s records that will be saved in the main Human Resources Folder. Store scanned copies of employee records, performance reviews, and internal personnel forms here for easy access. Create an Employee Cover Sheet for new employees that includes all the important information you might need about any employee, all in one easily-retrievable place. Click here for an example of the Carpenter Evert Employee Cover Sheet

2. Payroll Reports – all payroll reports, including copies of pay checks, are received from our payroll service each pay period and immediately cataloged into a Payroll Reports folder. This employee record folder should be saved as part of the main Human Resources Folder, along with quarterly and annual payroll reports.

3. Detailed Employee Record Roster – a report that includes specific records on all employees, contained in one spreadsheet. Save it in your main Human Resources Folder. You can customize the categories according to your organization, but here are some of the must-haves for employee records –

  • Name and contact information
  • Date of hire, date of birth
  • Salary information
  • Withholding
  • Benefits – insurance, PTO, etc.
  • Logins and passwords for computer, voice mail, etc.

Take a look at how we arrange our roster – HR Roster Example 

A Few Tips –

Setting up standard ways of naming all the employee record files and folders will help each part of the system work smoothly and will make searching for an employee record much easier. Customizing security settings on the HR folders will allow access to authorized personnel only. And remember, in most states, Minnesota included, employees have the right to review their HR files at any time. Make sure you don’t save too much information – a good rule of thumb is don’t put anything in an employee’s personnel file that you wouldn’t want a jury to see.

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