Employees Don’t Trust Employers’ Paper Records and Documentation

By Jason Peck on December 19, 2016

The survey we recently commissioned on attitudes towards the use of paper in the workplace showed an interesting generational shift. The research shows that millennials are much more comfortable with digital processes than older generations. This scientific poll conducted by respected pollster YouGov supports our mission and backs up what reporter Christopher Mims said in his recent Wall Street Journal piece featuring GoCanvas. The paperless office is truly coming soon (and it's a reality for many of our subscribers already). When the day fully arrives, it will not only be good for saving time and money, but maybe even employer/employee relationships (or at least help bolster trust in the workplace). Read all about the findings below.

Paper-based records aren't trusted, employees say

Survey data reveals more confidence in digital records than paper forms, but older employees may be slowing the digital transformation process

Reston, VA – December 19, 2016 – There’s a trust gap in many workplaces that spans almost every industry: employees worry that their employers can’t or aren’t keeping accurate track of the time and work they put in every day. A recent survey of American workers conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Canvas  found that 52 percent of employees whose bosses track their work the old-fashioned way – using punch cards, sign-in sheets and the like – have serious doubts about their employer’s ability to accurately record their time. When taking into account all respondents – whether they track hours via paper, digitally or don’t track them at all – that number falls to 36 percent.

“Paper-based systems leave a lot of room for error, so it's understandable that employees don't fully trust them,” said digital workforce expert Alexandra Levit. “Automating these processes is a win/win. The organization saves time and money, and workers know that their employer is doing everything possible to create a fair and equitable workplace.”

Almost half (49 percent) of employees in the survey reported that they use paper for timekeeping purposes, and 22 percent said more than half of their employer’s business processes still involved paper in some way. This may not seem like a big deal until you take into account the fact that in the U.S. alone the annual spends just for filing, storing and retrieving paper is $25 to $35 billion according to IDC. The analyst firm has also estimated that becoming a paperless office could lead to as much as a 36 percent increase in revenue and a 30 percent reduction in cost. That might look excessive but another of the firm’s estimations is that 28 percent of the average worker’s time is spent on administrative activities, most of them involving paper. Unfortunately, the current reality is that only 13 percent of survey respondents reported they worked in a paper-free workplace, but that will likely change as the workforce itself does.

“At GoCanvas we believe in fostering a culture that empowers employees, and a person who doesn’t entirely trust their current working environment isn’t likely to feel enabled,” said James Robins, Chief Marketing Officer at GoCanvas. “We give employees more control over their own working lives by making collecting, sharing and learning from an organization’s data easy, accurate and much more transparent. Making this digital transformation a priority is one way to win back trust of the workforce and as the paperless office becomes a reality, organizations large and small are turning to GoCanvas to automate their work.”

Nearly two thirds – 59 percent – of those surveyed trust technology to register work time in full – and only 12 percent disagree. If this is true, why have nearly a quarter of organizations resisted the digital record-keeping transformation? A generational split might be the cause. The percentages for each answer were fairly consistent across different demographics – geographic location, gender, education level – but age made a huge impact. Only 49 percent of baby boomers trust a digital system to keep track of hours. That number jumps to 69 percent among millennials. 

The idea of digital transformation has been around for a long time, but it’s only recently in the brave new mobile-first world that the process has gathered steam. Forty-eight percent of respondents said the ability to use a smartphone to input and access payroll data would make them more confident that hours were being accurately tracked. This figure, too, somewhat obscures a fairly large generation gap with 61 percent of millennials agreeing with that statement, whereas baby boomers are pretty evenly split with 29 percent agreeing and 29 percent disagreeing.

To learn more about how GoCanvas can help automate your workday, please take a quick tour of Canvas.