How to Make an E-Signature (And Why You'll Save Time and Money)
As an HR pro, “searching for efficiencies” might as well be in your job description. With all the forms, checklists, and general paperwork involved in your role, streamlining even one process can save you countless hours. Alternatively, tedious processes can keep you from focusing on the most important part of your job: your people.
One of the greatest time-saving tools in your arsenal: the electronic signature.
Electronic signatures—also known as e-signatures—are faster and more secure than the traditional means of acquiring a signature. With them, you can make a fast impact on speed, security, and more. We’re diving into all the ways e-signatures can revolutionize not just your HR department—but your entire organization.
In 2022 alone, BambooHR helped companies gather more than 15 million electronic signatures. Our easy-to-use HR software helps you gather and securely store electronic signatures on tax documents, new hire paperwork, nondisclosure agreements, and more. Learn more with a free demo today!
What Is an E-Signature?
An electronic signature is a signature in a digital format on a dedicated digital platform.
Through trusted electronic signature software, you can send important documents to anyone in the world using a computer or smartphone. Once received, the recipient can type or draw their signature, accept the terms, and send it right back in less than a minute.
Traditional means of collecting signatures via mail, fax, or email take a great deal of time, money, and paper. Stacks of paper have to be printed, copied, distributed, and stored for safekeeping. (Does this conjure nightmares of overflowing file cabinets?)
The entire process is costly, time-consuming, and downright frustrating. In 2023, the Wall Street Journal reported that printer sales have steadily declined since 2007—and because most people print documents infrequently, printing has become a dreaded chore. Sources admitted that they procrastinated, begged, and even cried as they tried to print tax documents or contracts.
With e-signatures, there’s no reason companies should waste valuable time and money collecting physical signatures the hard way. Electronic signatures simplify the process from start to finish, without sacrificing security or validity.
How to Make an E-Signature
1. Choose an Electronic Signature Software
While you don’t need a dedicated software to simply type a signature into a document, you do need a trusted e-signature software to get the added benefit of security and legal validity. Two-way document signing, security features, and ease of integration with other tools in your tech stack are a few of the features we recommend looking at when choosing your preferred software.
Gather electronic signatures the easy way.
Say goodbye to chasing down physical signatures. With E-Signatures in BambooHR, you can send (and receive) signatures digitally, saving time and simplifying the process for everyone.
2. Load Your Document Into Your E-Signature Software
This step is pretty self-explanatory! Import the document you need signed into your e-signature platform, and it will be ready to send when you need it.
3. Indicate The Signature Space in The Document
To make it easy on the signer, you’ll want to indicate each space where you need a signature. Most e-signature softwares are user-friendly and will guide the recipient to each signature or initial field.
4. Send The Document to The Signer
Time to send your document off to the signer! Once the recipient opens the document, they’ll receive prompts to sign where necessary. As far as physically signing goes, most organizations (including BambooHR) typically offer two simple methods:
- Drawing out your signature: You can draw out your signature directly into the document by using your mouse or finger.
- Typing out your signature: You can type in your name, which will automatically be submitted as an electronic signature.
Once the recipient has signed, they’ll submit the document back to you for easy, digital filing!
8 Reasons You Should Switch to Electronic Signatures
E-signatures can be a highly beneficial business tool for organizations. Here are the top eight reasons to start using them.
It's More Sustainable
70% of the total waste in offices is made up of paper. Can you imagine eliminating a huge percentage of paper waste through one simple process change? By switching to e-signatures, you can amp up your sustainability efforts in one fell swoop.
Bonus: You can also build trust by implementing eco-friendly processes. 92% of consumers trust brands that are environmentally responsible.
Between printing off a document, delivering it to the recipient, waiting for their signature, collecting the document, and filing the piece (or possibly pieces) of paper, the document-signing process is lengthy. E-signatures provide a lightning-fast solution so the steps that follow the signature can begin immediately.
You'll Boost Efficiency
Unlike paper documents, e-signatures are captured with the click of a button, greatly improving efficiency on both ends of the paperwork.
Signed, sealed, delivered documents—no hassle, no paper!
Did you know electronic signatures can help you save up to $300 and 30 hours for every new hire? BambooHR helps you go digital for fast, organized document signing that’s painless for everyone.
It's More Secure
Thanks to digital encryption and audit trails affiliated with the digital signature (more about those below), e-signatures are sealed, stored, and protected against hackers, a breach in security, and other threats.
It's Easier to Validate Documents
Before digital signatures, legal investigations relied solely on handwriting identification and the words of the witnesses. Digital signatures document the time, date, IP address, and unique user identification key that was utilized at the time of signing.
You'll Simplify Storage and Verification
It’s not uncommon for a filing cabinet to be overflowing with loose papers and manila folders. With e-signature software, you can keep all of your documents organized and secured against fires, floods, and security threats in one place—a revolutionary change for the HR world.
All Changes Are Tracked and Timestamped
The digital signature that seals the document also keeps a record of any changes that were made after the document was sealed. In doing so, electronic signatures can prevent documents from being tampered with and keep a record of who last made changes.
You'll Cut Costs
E-signatures can save an average of $300 per new employee in printing, faxing, and copying paper documents. Depending on how many new hires you have in a year, those dollars add up. Not to mention that time is money, and as mentioned above, e-signatures save valuable time.
What Are Some Ways to Use E-Signatures?
The short answer: E-signatures can be used for anything that requires a signature.
At BambooHR, we use e-signatures to smooth the onboarding process. Instead of asking new employees to spend their first day completing paperwork, we send important documents like their W-2 and I-9 electronically. They can peruse documents at their own pace, sign using an e-signature, and show up on their first day ready for orientation.
A few places where e-signatures are especially include:
- Background check and reference consents
- Onboarding documents (e.g., tax forms)
- Policy updates
- Open enrollment forms
- Job promotions
- Disciplinary actions
FAQs About Electronic Signatures
Does Typing Your Name Count as a Signature?
It may feel a little informal—typing your name on a legal document and clicking a brightly-colored button to finalize the action. It almost seems too easy. Contrary to popular concern, typing your name and clicking submit does count as a valid signature that can hold up under investigation in a court of law.
What is the Difference Between E-Signatures and Digital Signatures?
E-signatures and digital signatures are two very different things, although both are crucial to the process. The electronic signature is the actual signature of the signer—it can be created by simply typing a signature into a document. The digital signature is the lock and key that secures the document and the crucial details therein. A digital signature can capture the date, time, IP address, and other essential details to confirm the validity of an electronic signature. It will also record the history of the document, keeping records on any changes that were made after the document was signed. Unlike an electronic signature, you need a dedicated software to create a digital signature.
With a digital signature, one reliable platform enables you to send and receive documents, collect signatures, and lock them away behind a wall of digitally-monitored security.
Create better first days.
BambooHR helps you build an effective onboarding process with customizable onboarding checklists, welcome emails, and new hire packets—so every new hire feels welcome on day one.