Electronic signatures in HR – a case study

Oct 08, 2020

This article was written by an HR professional working for a multi-national cooperation. It demonstrates how an e-signature service like Countersign can help update and improve workflows in the HR system.

My life as an HR professional revolves around building strong relationships between my company and its employees. My goal is to spend as much time learning about our employees as possible. I want to understand the issues they face and the best way to resolve those problems. 

Previously, I spent a large portion of my days drafting, printing, and processing mail and written documents in the past. The time I lost doing these menial tasks prevented me from carrying out my more essential duties. 

Our company recently began using programs that incorporated electronic signatures. I learned that electronic signatures are an efficient and secure way to create legally binding documents. With the time I saved, the HR team has spent more time resolving employee issues and recruiting. I believe our company has benefitted from these changes. The application we use for electronic signatures is called Countersign. It is easy to use, affordable, and performs all the functions needed to accelerate HR-related issues.  

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Onboarding using electronic signatures

Onboarding is one of HR’s most important tasks. We need to have our future employees sign several documents before their first day. These include employment contracts, W-4 or I-9 forms, and benefits and payroll forms. The employees also get a copy of their employee handbook, and we have them sign a document that says they reviewed it. The employee receives these forms and benefits documents right after an employment agreement has been reached.

I have specific templates that I created and uploaded to Countersign. They can be edited and personalized for individual clients, and I can add a new signature, date, and initial lines. This function is useful because onboarding is a collaborative process between HR, legal, finance, IT, and other departments. Other departments must often sign off on a request before the company spends money, like purchasing new equipment for the new employee.  

Countersign allows me to upload document templates to store and send out more quickly.

HR professional on Countersign

After I send out the documents to the prospective employee, they receive an email that takes them to the Countersign web app. After reviewing the documents, the employee can sign it. If necessary, Countersign allows me to send copies to multiple people at once. Once one party has signed the document, the next one is automatically notified, requesting their signature.

Electronically signed documents are safe on many levels. Countersign will save these documents on a Google-secured network. The documents are stored in the Cloud, which means they are accessible to any of the parties. Cloud storage is an important safety measure, as the documents will exist even if something catastrophic occurs to our office. Once the document receives all necessary signatures, it becomes legally binding. Countersign also keeps track of any changes made to the document, keeping records if a party tries to change it without everyone else’s approval.

This process works far better than our old system. Prospective clients get back to us faster, and we become a more attractive company due to our efficiency and embrace of new technology.

Commonly sent documents stored in e-signature solution

Many other commonly signed documents use electronic signatures, and many of these reports require multiple departments to participate. For instance, an employee may send in an incident report, signed electronically. This report must go to legal, finance, and possibly other sections. Other examples include…

  • requests for vacation time,
  • request for reimbursement,
  • non-disclosure agreements,
  • resignation letters,
  • termination letters,
  • drug and alcohol policies,
  • and many more…

I have templates for all of these documents set up on Countersign and am ready to send them at a moment’s notice.

Since all documents are stored in Countersign, they are organized in one central location. Documentation is essential in this job, as any accidents or disciplinary actions could result in a lawsuit from an unhappy employee. Countersign allows management to sign reports indicating they were aware of the situation and what steps they took. Written and stored evidence, and the last edit date is valuable in case of a lawsuit.

An improved HR system

Our modernized HR system benefits our employees and helps increase retention rates. It helps me be a more valuable member of the company. I have more time to work with other departments and to know the employees. I have more time to research new recruitment strategies and reach out to prospects we previously haven’t explored.

Instead of shuffling through stacks of paper every morning, I have more time to help the people at my company feel heard and fulfilled as members of our company. This alone is a significant benefit of switching to electronic signatures and electronic filing with Countersign.

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