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Document generation with Workday Docs - doing much more than just its job

Read the HR and HRIS expert´s insights into how the document template generator Workday Docs empowers HR and supports businesses in their green transformation.

Magdalena Nissinen / October 27, 2023
Digital HR Insights Community

At a certain point in my career, as I was working in an HR Service Center, my team used to prepare documents related to HR business processes, like contracts or job certificates. The process included downloading a proper Word template, filling it with data taken from HR system and delivering the file to the requestor. Boy was it painful!

With documents sent back and forth due to typos, lacking data, wrong or outdated template there was also anxiety lurking behind: how to make sure this solution is a secure one for data.

No wonder the introduction of dynamically generated documents was a real game changer. It allowed HR people to just pick up an automatically prefilled document from their inbox as they follow their workflow steps. All that was left to do, was review it and collect signatures, where applicable. Minimizing the data processing and counterparts involved in it was a significant improvement in data security.

Many Workday clients took its text block-based Document Generator to use to their great advantage, even though – with many limitations in the editing options or the necessity to involve integration consultant for any layout change, as it required using BIRT. 

Most of these obstacles have been removed with the introduction of Workday Docs in the second release of 2021. What new do Docs bring to the table?

You know what you are doing

Workday Docs template creator has an intuitive layout that resembles popular text editors like MS Word or Open Office Write, so there is minimal learning effort to get it started.

  • Easily accessible text formatting options allow you to set up font size, bolding and color, but also add tables, images, or bullet points – all these available from the ribbon.
  • Layout changes like page breaks, headers or footers can be done with similar ease.
  • Like in the previous Workday document generation solution, data fields as well as calculated fields can be used within text. Condition rules drive the visibility of text sections so you can minimize the number of your templates.
  • Document templates allow multiple language versions which can be managed with content translations feature.
  • Unlike the text block documents, you can preview your template as you build, which saves you a significant amount of testing time. Also, there is no need to bother the integration team at that point. 


 Be prepared, but stay flexible

The document template is stored in Workday Drive, and you can share it from there with a user group or specific colleagues at any time of editing.  Moreover, it is up to you whether they can view only or modify it, as long as that the general accesses are in place (Drive and Docs). Once you are happy with your draft, you can publish it and from then on it can be added to the business process you want to generate it from. Changes to template require publishing it again, so that business process uses the most recent version; but no changes in the process definition are needed. 

Template ready, what’s next?

As they follow business process steps, the end user, for example HR Partner or Recruiter, generates the document: filled with data collected in the system and built according to conditional rules. They are not, however, limited by the outcome - at this stage they can still edit the generated document: add a paragraph for that one exceptional employee or remove a page break gone awkward. To protect key sections from accidental changes, they can be locked in the template. The document can be printed from here, but it does not need to.

The Earth likes it

Workday Docs offers two major ways of contributing to paperless document circulation, which helps by saving resources and reducing environmental footprint.

Firstly, integration possibility with electronic signature solutions, such as Adobe E-sign or DocuSign enables skipping printouts and allows workers or candidates to sign or acknowledge their employment agreement or work contract from their respective user interface.

Secondly, once this happens, these documents are automatically stored in Workday so you can keep the record there - you are one more step towards ditching unnecessary paper. 

More to come

Functioning in a document paradigm instead of text block paradigm, Workday Docs comes with certain limitations at the time. Reusable content between templates is not supported – which means that even the same paragraph needs to be updated separately within every template. For the same reason, document templates created in Docs cannot be migrated between tenants with Object Transporter like text blocks would be. Instead, they need to be downloaded from one tenant and uploaded to another as a file.

Legal licensing issues result in Workday’s default font Roboto being the only one available for Docs – other options are under investigation. Also, you need to pay attention to character rendering if you are using non-Latin languages like Chinese and Russian, for it may not be fully reliable. Workday keeps improving it to deliver full support in all languages.

There is a wide range of business processes currently supported by Workday Docs, from Recruiting through One Time Payment to Reference Letter and Workday constantly widens its scope. Also, the notifications sent from Workday to its users can be created as Docs template so you can enhance them with graphics and other visual advantages to make your message clear. 

Keeping all this in mind, I am looking forward to seeing the next steps of Docs development.

Are you ready to experience the ease? Check out Docs. The HR me definitely would. The Consultant me and my team is here to help you with setting up the Drive and Docs, advice you on the best practices around templates and document generation within the business processes. Do not hesitate to contact me via the form on this page and check more about our Workday services.


Magdalena Nissinen
Solution Consultant

10+ years of experience with various HR systems. Magdalena unifies a passion for data with a knack to understand people. Certifications: Workday HCM Core, Workday Launch


Magdalena Nissinen

Solution Consultant

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