Digital Employee Files

Forget about Searching Personnel Data

In Personio, all employee data is stored and modified online in digital employee files. All it takes is a few clicks.
Alternatively, have your employees update their own employee data to complete your administrative tasks in a third of the time.

Reduce Administrative Effort with Electronic Employee Files

A Single Location for All Data
Never lose time again maintaining employee data across different lists. In Personio, all the employee data you need is stored centrally in digital employee files. Any modifications therefore only need to be made once.

Anytime Access to Employee Data – Whether by You or Authorized Colleagues
Once upon a time, when HR colleagues needed file x on employee y, it needed to be physically sent. With electronic employee files, this inefficient practice is a thing of the past. Personio ensures that all the data you need is available anytime and anywhere, to you and your colleagues, so you can work independently of each other.

Lean Back and Let Your Employees Take Over

Employees Update Their Own Data
With Personio’s Employee Self Service, employees update their own master data, and their managers approve changes in a one-click process. This level of administrative transparency inspires trust among employees while also reducing HR workloads.

Avoid Incomplete Master Data
Incorrect master data causes errors, e.g. in payroll accounting. Personio’s Employee Self Service helps ensure that employee data is always up to date. Alternatively, pre-populate the database with information such as titles and salaries so you will not need to worry about it as you approach key payroll dates. You can rely on Personio to transfer all updates automatically to minimize the risk of errors as the next key payroll date approaches.

With digital employee files, employees update their personnel data themselves.

Error-free, Data Protection-compliant Data Administration

A Single Source for Harmonized Data
A copy of a copy of a copy… Any time duplicate lists are maintained, there is a chance that different versions of documents are circulated – and inconsistent data results in errors. In Personio, employees access specific, centralized data, rather than data being disseminated to employees.

Compliant Data Management
Who is authorized to view and update your lists and send them from A to B? A lack of transparency causes gaps in data protection. With digital employee files, you decide who has access to and who may modify which personnel data.

Flexible Design, Clear Overview, Less Paperwork

You decide which information gets to be stored in the digital employee files. To ensure that your company’s processes are mapped optimally, Personio allows you to create different sections, e.g. for personal data and associated employee attributes such as names, email addresses and telephone numbers.

With digital employee files, you never miss important dates

Never Miss Important Dates

Just imagine: An employee successfully completes his/her probation period – and nobody remembers. Even with a handful of employees, it can become difficult to remember all key events and dates. With the electronic employee files in Personio, you simply enter key events and their dates, and the system sends you and your managers timely reminders for important dates such as performance reviews at the end of probation periods.

Precise Rights Management

You determine which employee data is only accessible to HR and what information may also be viewed by other employees or teams. As a result, employees are able to access key non-confidential information about their colleagues from their personnel files, which promotes new employees’ social integration.

How much Leeway do you Have to Improve your HR Management?

Personio supports you in all of your HR processes, from managing applicants or vacations to payroll accounting. Receive a free Test-Account or find out in our 20 minute Webdemo which processes you can optimize through the use of more efficient software.

Cloud Services Made in Germany

Data Security Made in Germany

  • ISO Certified
    All data is stored and processed on our iso-certified servers in Frankfurt. Additionally, back-ups are filed in different locations to ensure that no data can get lost.
  • SSL Secured
    Sophisticated safety measures in our code base as well as SSL encryption further protects your data against attacks of all kinds.
  • 2-Factor-Authentication
    Two-factor authentication and our role-based multi-level access rights concept grant you full external as well as internal control and security for your data.

Why You Should Introduce Digital Employee Files

More and more companies recognize the benefits of digitalization, including digital employee files. After all, the electronic version of personnel files not only increases the efficiency of HR work, but also significantly improves employee files and employee master data sheets in terms of content quality. At the same time, carefully managed rights management ensures that HR data remains secure and confidential.

Say Goodbye to Cost-Intensive Paper Files

By introducing electronic (i.e. digital) employee files, your company gains access to numerous functions and benefits, and takes a major step towards digital transformation, which reduces the drain on cost structures in HR. Furthermore, this digitalization process generally yields a return on investment within only 18 months: While costs increase at the beginning of the conversion process from paper-based to digital employee files, they drop rapidly after the first six to nine months.

The costs incurred early on in the process are mainly initial costs, i.e. costs associated with introducing the new system. These include the investment in the software itself, the necessary training, costs of implementation, including expenses for process conversion, and a temporarily increased workload as paper files are digitalized.

Reduced Costs, Increased Efficiency

Reduced HR costs are among the main arguments for electronic employee files. Providers of comprehensive software solutions often cite the following monthly costs for ongoing operations within larger companies with an average of 4,000 employees:

  • 90 cents per file, including archives and audit-compliant operations
  • 20 cents per file for ongoing digitalization

At the same time, HR workloads are reduced, as digital processes ensure that employee files can be managed and updated highly efficiently. This in turn allows you to deploy qualified employees in other important areas of HR work.

In terms of HR workload, digital employee files ensure that information is found more quickly and can then be processed within a matter of minutes. Processing paper files, in contrast, takes at least 20 minutes per process, and often considerably more.

While the above calculation is obviously simplified, it does not yet include further cost benefits arising from expensive archiving space becoming redundant, or the ease of managing document retention periods. Your software solutions expert for digital employee files will be happy to provide you with a detailed calculation customized to your company size.

Benefits At a Glance

  • Time and thus cost savings in processing employee files
  • Expensive archiving space becomes redundant, which means extra space gained for your company
  • Cross-departmental process optimization
  • Analyses for further optimization and development initiatives at the click of a button
  • High security thanks to smart rights management systems
  • Easier management of document retention obligations
  • Versioning of updated documents

All of these benefits are great arguments for electronic personnel files. All important information is available in just a few clicks, making time-consuming searches for employee files and the information contained in them, as well as filing processes, a thing of the past. The versioning of updated documents for audit-compliant storage is particularly useful.

Content and Structure of Digital Employee Files

Employee files store employment-relevant data. However, there is no legal definition of this data. In most cases, HR managers are able to determine the structure and contents of digital employee files themselves.

Personio, for example, allows you to create customized employee attributes and to combine these in specific areas, so-called sections. HR information, for example, constitutes such a section. This information comprises the hire date, the duration of the probation period, etc. All sections and the associated employee attributes are displayed in the employee profile. The following sections have proven useful for our customers:

Section: Public profile
Example: name, gender, email address, etc.

Section: HR information
Example: hire date, supervisor, duration of probation period, etc.

Section: Personal data
Example: birth name, country of birth, LinkedIn profile, etc.

Section: Payroll data
Example: tax category, marital status, religion

Each section can hold any number of attributes. Other sections that have proven helpful for Personio users are: bank details, talent management, HR contact, emergency contact, company pension plan, languages, skills management and employee equipment. For a full list of sections and attributes visit this page.

Employees are able to view and update predefined areas of their digital employee file themselves, e.g. their current telephone number. As a result, you no longer need to deal with this at all. You only need to define who is authorized to update which data.

Rights Management to Reduce HR Workloads

Rights management, i.e. the control of access to digital employee files, makes an important contribution to reducing HR workloads and therefore opens up additional cost benefits. For example, if an employee or supervisor wants to view a physical personnel file, this requires a great deal of effort from HR managers/staff, as a time needs to be agreed upon and the employee file needs to be prepared for viewing. If employees and supervisors are able to view the personnel file autonomously, however, this effort becomes redundant.

To comply with data protection requirements, employees are only able to view their own digital personnel files, while access by supervisors and works council members is limited to the legally permitted extent of their employees’ personnel file data.

However, modern rights management for digital employee files goes even further, as software solutions allow employees to initiate a range of processes and edit the information contained in their files in a clearly defined manner. A company’s employees are, for example, able to update their own master data or to file leave requests digitally. As approval processes are also digitalized, paper-based processes are reduced substantially, and leave and travel requests can be processed and approved effortlessly.

Payroll programmes allowing data to be exchanged between payroll accounts, time records and electronic employee files are particularly efficient. These ensure that overtime or absences due to illness, travel or paid leave are automatically linked to employee information and stored in the correct categories. This type of software thus permits optimized analyses that are essential for answering targeted questions for developing initiatives or determining performance indicators, among others.

Electronic Employee Files Simplify Analyses

There are many reasons for carefully analyzing the information contained in electronic personnel files. Analyses may be geared toward continuous staff training, for example, or focus on developing initiatives to reduce frequent illness-related absences. Without electronic personnel files, such analyses are hugely time-consuming, as the steps required when using conventional HR software are lengthy and inefficient.

Given that digital employee files contain all of the information pertaining to each employee, they considerably facilitate regular as well as spontaneous analyses.

Electronic Employee Files Ensure High Security

How to protect digitalized data is a very frequently discussed topic. Digital employee files have been shown to protect the information they hold more securely than paper-based files, though, mainly due to the above-mentioned rights management system, which is designed to reliably prevent unauthorized access to employee files.

The rights management embodied in modern software solutions therefore complies with all legal data protection requirements, while conventional forms of storage offer considerably less security. After all, it is actually very easy to gain access to information that is physically stored in an office. All it takes is a brief moment without supervision. Even when information is kept in locked cabinets or archives, it isn’t that difficult to obtain they keys to these forms of storage. Unauthorized digital access, in contrast, requires substantially greater effort and, above all, the relevant expertise to even get close to an electronic file.

What Documents Should Be in an Employee File?

Employee files, whether digital (software) or paper-based, store the information that is relevant to the employment. What precisely this information comprises is not legally defined, but the following data generally forms part of an employee file:

  • Employment contract
  • Further training records
  • Work permits (for employees with foreign nationalities)
  • Any written cautions (generally to be stored for up to 3 years)
  • CV from the application

There is no prescribed general retention period for records in an employee file. Instead, different retention periods apply to different types of documents.

Employee Access to Personnel Files

Each employee is entitled to view their personnel file. If the HR department uses software to archive the data in the form of a digital employee file, this is easily done from any PC or smartphone. Employees who don’t have their own computer can exercise this right from a terminal PC or from within the HR department. If you file hard copies of employee records, an authorized person from the HR department needs to make the file accessible first.

Modern software solutions such as Personio feature an authorization system where you define roles for individual (groups of) employees. You can, for example, determine that normal employees are only able to view their own digital employee files, whereas supervisors are also able to access certain of their employees’ data. Special access rights can be granted for works council members or employees in the HR department.

Digital Employee Files and Data Protection

Every company is under an obligation to protect personnel files against unauthorized third-party access. If you manage employee files electronically, the servers on which documents are stored must comply with legal requirements.

Personio relies on data protection “made in Germany,” and complies with the European General Data Protection Regulation. We protect our customers’ data on ISO-certified secure servers in Frankfurt/Main. Additional back-ups are stored in separate fire protection areas. Two-factor authentification and a sophisticated role and rights management system ensure that your data is protected against unauthorized access. Personio HR software also features further security functionalities and always connects to you via SSL encryption.


Every company is under an obligation to protect personnel files against unauthorized third-party access. If you manage employee files electronically, the servers on which documents are stored must comply with legal requirements.

All relevant employee information is always available with just a few clicks – no more nerve-racking searches for data in old folders or poorly organized Excel spreadsheets. Digital employee files offer a range of impressive benefits, which we have summarized for you below:

  • Time and thus cost savings in processing employee files
  • Redundancy of costly physical archiving space and paper – sustainability
  • Analyses for further optimization and development initiatives at the click of a button
  • Employee Self Service so that you can focus on important projects
  • High degree of security with rights-based systems
  • Easier management of document retention obligations
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