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How to create an awesome Human Resources SharePoint Site

Organizations differ in types and sizes, but one common thread among all is that every company has a Human Resources SharePoint site in some shape or form. You can’t run a company without one for legal and other reasons. In any case, it is always necessary to share specific information, updates, and documents with employees. SharePoint Intranet naturally offers an excellent platform for Human Resources to share and disseminate information. Human Resources SharePoint site is a great site to implement in the first phase of the SharePoint implementation – it is a quick win, relatively simple to implement and great for user adoption as everyone needs to go and read that latest company policy, handbook or information about onboarding new employees. Human Resources SharePoint Site is also “easy” on governance since only a limited number of users can modify data on the site (most users are read-only).

In this post, I would like to provide some guidance and instructions on how to create a cool-looking HR page. The instructions below apply to those who are in SharePoint Online (Office 365). If you have older versions of SharePoint, some of the modules can be recreated using classic web parts, but modern pages are far superior in terms of look and feel and usability.

To be clear first, below, I am talking about an employee-facing Human Resource SharePoint Site, not an internal (private) HR Team Site.

Step 1: Choose the proper template

The first step is to choose the appropriate template for the site. We have two choices in modern SharePoint now. Team Site (with or without an Office 365 Group) and a Communication Site. A communication site is a perfect use case for Human Resources SharePoint site. Since this will be mostly for one-way info sharing, we do not need the team-collaboration aspects of a Team Site/Office 365 groups. Besides, Communication Site is excellent in terms of building some beautiful visuals, with Hero Web Part, for example, and a wide-screen (no left-hand-side menu) layout. So, the bottom line is – we made a choice – we pick Communication Site as a template for our HR Employee Site! On to the next step!

Step 2: Determine what you want to share with employees

Next step would be to determine the content you want to share with your audience. Having worked in a  corporate world previously and seeing what my clients do now, let me share the essential elements that are usually a staple of a typical HR Site:

  • HR Announcements: policy updates, new employee announcements, medical insurance enrollment deadlines (for those of us who live in the US 🙂 )
  • Upcoming events: company holidays, deadlines
  • Company Policies, Forms, Templates
  • Employee Birthdays and Anniversaries or Employee of the Month section
  • Links to external websites: various insurance providers, retirement accounts, etc.
  • Employee folders where each employee has own secure area accessible by Manager and HR Stuff
  • HR Knowledge Base: Wiki-style knowledge base with pages of information detailing various HR processes
  • Employee Onboarding process

Step 3: Translate requirements into SharePoint web parts

What we need to do next is translate all of the HR requirements into respective web parts/functionality in SharePoint Online. I will use the examples above to give you an idea of how this will look in SharePoint.

HR Announcements

News Web Part is an excellent mechanism for this. You can create pretty colorful and visually appealing announcements, as every announcement has its own page. All the announcements appear in chronological order on the main page. Also, if you use Hub Sites, you can roll up news from the HR site and surface them up on the main Intranet page as well.

Human Resources SharePoint Site

Upcoming events

SharePoint Calendar is what you want to use here.  I blogged previously about various calendar options we have in SharePoint and Office 365 and SharePoint calendar is a perfect fit for this as you want to highlight various events, company holidays, and deadlines. Just like with News, Events can be rolled up from multiple sources or shown on the main Intranet page as well.

Company Policies, Forms, Templates

For these, you can use a SharePoint document library. Depending on the volume of documents in each category, you can either use multiple libraries or just one. You can also spice it up with metadata to organize your docs by a department, category, expiration date, etc.

Employee Birthdays and Anniversaries, Employee of the Month section, Contact Us section

You have a few options here. The easiest would be to utilize People Web Part to list employee names. The downside is that it just contains user names and not other information you want like employee Birthday or Anniversary date.

Oh, look! I am an Employee of the Month!

The other alternative would be to use a custom list to store employee names and birthday/anniversary dates and then have this list appear on the page. The beauty about this is that you can use the View functionality and filter and sort in particular order.

Links to external websites

Once again, a few options here, but my favorite is Quick Links.

I blogged previously about different options you have as far as creating links. By the way, to make your site visually appealing, and highlight certain content, you can also use Hero Web Part.

Employee folders where each employee has own secure area accessible by Manager and HR Stuff

This is quite a common request on Human Resources SharePoint site. Essentially HR staff likes to have a place where they can store and exchange documents with employees and their managers. When I build a Human Resources SharePoint Site for clients, I usually create a single document library with a folder name for each manager and a subfolder underneath for each employee that reports to that manager. Then use folder-level security (which I described in this post) to set unique permissions for each folder. So what ends up happening is that when a user accesses the site and sees this library, he or she only sees folders the user has access to. Employee only sees their lonely folder, Manager sees their management folder and all employee folders underneath, and HR Staff has access to all the files and folders.

Human Resources SharePoint Site

HR Knowledge Base

Modern Pages is what you want to use here. Paired with page-level metadata, you can build an impressive knowledge base, linking pages to each other + allowing users to search by keywords and tags. I described how to build a Wiki Knowledge Base using modern pages here.

Human Resources SharePoint Site

Employee Onboarding process

This usually involves the building of workflows, built on top of the custom list. There are many ways to create workflows, but I recommend that you use Flow to carry an input form through some approval.

Step 4: Build the Human Resources SharePoint Site

Using the information above, go ahead and create a brand new Communication Site (instructions here) and add the web parts you decide to use. You can reference this post for instructions on how to customize a page in SharePoint. Also, this one might be a good read as I talk about best practices for modern pages.

Step 5: Set Security

This is very important. Before you release the site to the masses, make sure to set the proper security. You typically will add Everyone to Visitors group, HR Staff who will maintain the site into Members Group and a few folks to will maintain the site and manage permissions into the Owners Group.

Also, if you decided to do unique permissions on the folders I described above, do that too.

Step 6: Prevent Sharing

Since this is not a collaboration site, I suggest you disable sharing of it to prevent unauthorized access. Read this post to learn more about what I am talking about here and how to disable the sharing.

Step 7: Promote your Human Resources SharePoint Site

Now that you got the site – it is time to promote it! Here are a few ideas:

  • Add the HR Site to the Intranet Hub and add a link to the Hub navigation
  • Email the page from SharePoint
  • Add a quick Link or Hero Web Part on the Intranet Main Page to point to the HR Site
  • Post links on Yammer groups if your organization is using Yammer

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