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The digital personnel file and its advantages

Personnel files are kept by employers and contain all personnel data that are relevant for an employment relationship. The majority of companies still rely on paper files. But these cause some problems. 

One of them is a large loss of productivity. Up to 25% of the working time of HR managers is used for the administration of personal data (1). This time could be used for more meaningful tasks.

We explain what information a digital personnel file contains the advantages it offers, what companies have to pay attention to when introducing them and how their digitization can be implemented.

1. The content of electronic personnel files

Employers collect all information about their employees that play a role in the employment relationship in the digital personnel file. This includes:

1. Personal documents 

  • Application documents
  • Employment
  • Personal data such as birthday, place of birth, address, emergency contact, etc.

2. Tax and social security documents

  • Social security number
  • health insurance
  • Payroll

3. Further documents

  • Assessments
  • Personnel development plan
  • Certificates or documents about advanced training

The points mentioned can of course also be found in paper files. In the digital file, however, they are, for example, scanned in as electronic documents.

Information on the political direction, social media profiles or medical and psychological documents do not belong in the file (2).

2. What are the advantages of a digital personnel file?

time savings

Companies save time and money with a digital personnel file. It enables fast, location-independent access to all personnel data if it can be called up via a web-based platform. 

HR managers no longer have to spend working time looking for documents, stowing them in filing cabinets or continuously checking data to ensure that it is up-to-date. Since employee self-service is often associated with digital personnel files, employees can view, edit and update their documents themselves. This makes the process much more efficient.

Access and Security

Digital personnel files offer more security if they are used and stored correctly. In this way, access authorizations can be set which ensure that only authorized persons can access the data. File folders, on the other hand, are accessible to everyone who has access to their storage location.


Using digital files saves you high paper and printing costs. At the same time you are doing something good for the environment. This not only gives your company the image of an environmentally conscious company, but also makes you appear more modern.

3. What should be considered?

If we look at the content of personnel files, it quickly becomes clear that this is sensitive data. These must not be accessible to everyone, and they must not be stored at will. In principle, the following applies: The handling of personal data must GDPR compliant .

4. What are personal data?

Legally, the term is to be interpreted very broadly. First of all, it is all information about an identified or identifiable natural person. This includes practically all data that can be assigned to a person. 

In detail, someone is considered identifiable if this is possible via direct or indirect assignment to a name, an identification number, location data or an online identifier that expresses the identity. Physical, physiological, psychological, genetic, economic, cultural or social identity (3) are considered “identity” here. 

5. How can personnel files be digitized?

When introducing the digital personnel file must be well thought out whether the planned implementation data protection compliant is. For this it makes sense to first call in an expert to identify the central levers.

GDPR-compliant HR software can be particularly helpful. In addition to the digitization of personnel files, it also represents an important step in optimizing other HR processes.

You can either opt for a cloud-based solution or software on the company server. However, simply storing digital documents on the company server is no longer appropriate and has some disadvantages. So you drive better with a cloud-based solution.

With this variant, an administrator can easily determine who is allowed to access which data. For example, a team leader can only see the documents of their own team members and not those of other teams.


All in all, it is the digital personnel file a contemporary and practical solution. It relieves a company's HR department, saves costs and increases the security of sensitive data.

In addition, you ensure more flexibility if your employees can view and make changes to their personnel files anytime, anywhere. Transparency is also increased, as it can be traced who accessed the data and when.


  1. https://kiwihr.com/de/digitale-personalakte
  2. https://kiwihr.com/de/blog/die-personalakte
  3. https://dsgvo-gesetz.de/themen/personenbezogene-daten/


Frederieke Cirksena has been supporting kiwiHR in online marketing since 2021. Before that, she studied communication science and psychology and is particularly interested in the HR area and its challenges.

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