Bulk import or update people

15Five's bulk import tool allows account admins to add or update multiple accounts at once via CSV. This article walks through how to complete a bulk import and what information can be managed via bulk import. See the "FAQs" section at the bottom of this article for tips and tricks on how to use the bulk import tool efficiently and effectively.

Access and availability

⛔️ Required access to Manage people.
👥 This article is relevant to Account admins.
📦 This feature is available in all pricing packages.

Import or update users via bulk import CSV

Account admins can import new users or update existing users via CSV using our bulk import tool. You can use either employee email address or employee ID as the unique identifier when making changes. This option can be managed in your company's import settings (in-app link).



Employee IDs are unique to individuals, making them a good alternative to email address as a person's unique identifier (especially if email addresses change frequently in your organization). 15Five does not set the employee_id field automatically; it's completely up to account admins at your company to either enter employee IDs manually in employee account settings or use bulk import or another sync process to populate the employee_id field. Once the employee_id field is populated, your company can opt to use it to identify users in company settings.

  1. Click the 'Settings' gear in the top right-hand corner of 15Five.
  2. Select 'People' from the dropdown menu to open the 'Manage people' page.
  3. Click to open the 'Import' tab in the top navigation bar.
  4. You are now on the bulk import page. This page includes a table of all fields that can be managed via CSV. Please read these, as well as the formatting rules outlined under "Use the example below as a guide while following a few simple rules", in full before creating your bulk import CSV, as they contain important information regarding what to include and how to format each column. If you have any questions about specific columns, please refer to the FAQs section at the bottom of this article.
  5. Download your company's current employment structure by clicking the Download current structure button at the top of the page.


    We suggest downloading one copy of your current structure to keep in a safe place for re-upload in case any unintended changes are made when you upload your CSV, and downloading a second copy to make edits to. You can then upload the edited CSV.

  6. Create your bulk import CSV.
  7. Make sure that the Employee Identifier (employee ID or employee email) at the bottom of the page aligns with the Employee Identifier you used in the CSV file. If not, you can update it in Company Settings > Import Settings.
  8. Then, click Choose file at the bottom of the screen and find the CSV from your computer that you would like to import. Please note: the file must be in UTF-8 CSV format.
  9. Once you have selected the file that you want to import, a 'Preview import' screen will appear. Review the changes to be made. If the changes aren't what you want, click the Start over button in the bottom, left-hand corner of the page to stop the import and be redirected back to the bulk import page.
  10. If you want new users to receive an invite email, check the box next to "Send invite email to all in bulk import." You can change the subject and body of the invite email in the 'Invite settings' section of the Company settings page.


    People who are added via bulk import with the "Send invite email" box checked will appear on the 'Manage people: Inactive' page under "Pending invitations". "Pending" means that an invite email has been sent but not yet accepted, or that an invite email will be sent to the person on their start date. People who are added via bulk import without the "Send invite email" box checked will appear on the 'Manage people: Inactive' page under "Created people". "Created" means that an invite email has not been sent and is not scheduled to be sent. You will need to manually invite these people by clicking the Send invitation button next to their name when you're ready for them to be invited to 15Five.

  11. Click Finish import.
  12. Depending on the size of your CSV, it may take up to 15 minutes for the import to complete. Once the import is complete, updates will be reflected in 15Five.



Will I be automatically charged for new people I add to 15Five using the bulk import tool?

No. 15Five will not charge for invited/new individuals until the invite is accepted and the person becomes active. Billing for the new individual(s) is prorated based on activated date and the time left in your current subscription period.

CSV fields

What fields can I import/update via CSV?

For a full list of fields that can be managed via CSV import, visit the bulk import page in 15Five. Please read that page in its entirety before creating a bulk import CSV, as it contains important information regarding each individual field. 

I want to import a field that isn't listed on the bulk import page. Is that possible?

It just might be! See this article for information on how to bulk update custom attributes.

What field do you read to know which person to update?

We use employee email or employee ID as the unique identifier— you can select which option you want to use in your company's import settings (in-app link). That means if you're, for example, looking to update the job title via bulk import, your CSV only needs to include either the email column or the e employee_id column  and the title column. That said, if you're adding people via bulk import, you must include an email address even if your company uses employee_id as the unique identifier because all 15Five accounts must be associated with an email address.

Do you update every field every time a bulk import occurs, or only the things that have changed?

We only update fields that change. For example- if you upload a CSV on which the only change is a new job title for an individual, as long as you make that title change in the row that contains the individual's current email address, the job title will be updated.

If I don't include an individual or field on my bulk import, will they be deleted from 15Five?

No. 15Five will only update information for people and fields who are included on the import. If a person or field is not included on the CSV, that information will remain as is. 

How does the 'start_date' field impact individuals' access to 15Five?

start_date is the date a new individual will be invited to and have access to 15Five (mm/dd/yyyy). This field is optional. If you'd like for a person to be invited/have access to 15Five immediately, leave this field blank or do not include it in your import. People without a start date will get an invite immediately and can sign into 15Five right away.

Can I bulk deactivate users using a CSV?

Yes. To bulk deactivate, use the column header is_active and type "n" next to the email addresses of people whose accounts you'd like to deactivate.

How do I use the due_day column to update Check-In due days?

The due_day column header can only be used if you are on a weekly cadence for Check-ins. At this time, you cannot use the bulk import tool to update due day for bi-weekly or monthly reporting periods. For steps on how to change Check-in due day for people who aren't on weekly Check-in cadences, check out this article.


How can I specify group type on a bulk import CSV?

Each group type gets its own column in a CSV import (e.g. group_type_Department). You can also create new group types via bulk import CSV by creating a new column with the format group_type_NewGroupType.

I want add users to new groups using the bulk import tool. How do I do that?
As is mentioned in the previous question, each group type gets its own column in a CSV import (e.g. group_type_Department). To add an individual to multiple groups, make sure that you include those group(s) in that group type's column in the bulk import CSV. Individuals will be removed from any groups not included in the CSV upon import.
If you want to add a person to more than one group within a group type, separate the group names using a semicolon. For example, if you want to add a person to both the Sales and Account Management groups within the group type Departments, it would look like this:
If a group has special characters, do I need to do anything special to the group name when including it in a bulk import CSV?
No. Include the group name exactly as it appears in 15Five. Groups names are not case sensitive, but including any additional characters in a group name will create a new group in 15Five.
So— if you want to add a person to a group called Learning & Development in the group type Team Initiatives, it would look like this:
Do I need to include Smart Groups in my bulk import CSV?

No, you do not need to upload or update Smart Groups through the CSV. As you upload new employees, they will be placed into the corresponding Smart Group depending on the direct manager email you include in the CSV file.


Our team has an HRIS or SCIM integration. Can we still use the bulk import tool?

Yes. The bulk import tool is often utilized by SCIM/HRIS customers for fields that are not automatically updated via the integration.

Our team has SSO enabled. Can I upload a CSV file before we launch and suppress the email invitations?
Yes. If you have SSO enabled will you see an option that reads "Do not send welcome emails to new users" and a checkbox. Check that box if you do not want imported people to get an invite. Please note: if you select this setting, invite emails cannot be resent at a later time. 


What does the error "Oops! Your file was not successfully uploaded. Please make the corrections and try again. Can not decode file. Please ensure file is ASCII or UTF-8 encoded." mean?

If you see this error message, try re-saving your import as a CSV UTC-8 format and uploading again. This error is common when you try and upload an Excel file instead of a CSV file, but can easily be resolved by saving the file in the correct format.Screen_Shot_2021-04-19_at_1.57.53_PM.png

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