When you think about your human resources department, what comes to mind first? Piles of contracts, sick leaves, interviews, benefits administration, GDPR, safety training, feedback sessions… Probably a whole of a lot of things before you would even think about systems. Data management, information tracking, software... If you aren’t working in the HR department you probably can’t see that technology and HR now work very closely together. HR has evolved a lot in the last decade, but the improvements that are most visible are the ones where this department meets the IT. As a result, you get a lot of amazing HRIS, also known as HRMs. They have completely changed how HR operates, and they can benefit your company a lot.
What is HRIS?
HRIS, which stands for Human Resources Information System, easily interchangeable with Human Resources Management System, is a software solution that helps HR professionals do their job more efficiently. HRIS can store, manage and analyze data and assist in strategic HR planning of any company or an organization. This online solution can also be called Human Capital Management (HCM) but despite its several different ways it always has the same function - to streamline HR processes and to aid HR employees in workforce management.
The tasks that many HR managers are facing are daily can be quite overwhelming, occasionally repetitive, and almost always very important and not open to mistakes. HR managers and all of those working in their teams are usually facing a lot of challenges in order to successfully perform all of their HR tasks. This is where HRIS software comes into play. From onboarding to employee engagements, you can track anything, in real-time, with precision, and with the ability to use the data gathered for strategic decision-making.
Finding the right HRIS isn’t an easy task, because you need to know what you are looking for. Most HRIS solutions focus on ease of use, task automation and they value user experience. They can be highly customizable, usually come with desktop and mobile app versions, and they can store large amounts of data. Start by writing down the process you have in your department and then look into different options available on the market. But, first, let’s break down what a typical HR software can do for you.
What is HRIS used for?
What can HR systems do? Well, a whole lot. You can use them to automize tasks, to speed up different HR functions, to analyze data, to make large amounts of data accessible to a lot of people, you can gather and manipulate data easily and most importantly you can use all of that data to make informed, strategic decisions about the future of HR. Or better yet, the entire company. If we look at the three most obvious HR sub-departments, this is what they usually use HRIS for.
Administration and legal
This sector was the birthplace of HR software. Since they are responsible for not only storing all employee information but also making it accessible at all times, the need to automate, digitalize, and improve was high. Using analog tools, or programs that aren’t safe and don’t allow cooperation simply wasn’t doing the job anymore. Globalization made sure of that, as the need to be connected, fast and always up-to-date grew bigger.
One of the very first functionalities of HRMs was to store employee data. Contact information, education, salary, day of birth… Simply, keep the data there - neatly organized, easy to access by the HR team, and always updated. Afterward came the need to automate tasks - the one that took a lot of time and didn’t bring any value. Sick leaves, birthday reminders, contract renewals… All of that was done much easier and much faster with the use of the software. SaaS started blooming here and it hasn’t stopped since.
Nowadays, there are two most frequent uses of an HRIS in this department. The first one is time and attendance. In one place you can see working hours, absent leaves, sick days and holidays for every employee. Time tracking is necessary for many professions. Not only is that data legally necessary, but it is also very indicating of culture, trends, and overall employee satisfaction.
Another frequent use is automating payroll. Often in cooperation with accounting, one of the most complicated functions of HR software is the ability to store, calculate and manage every payment made to every employee. Along with salaries come also compensation packages, often with serious benefits management. It isn’t typical for one software to store every piece of data, and payroll is very frequently separated, because of its complexity and the need to cooperate with other departments.
Core HR functions, from the legal point of view, lie in this department. Selecting an HR platform that can assist your team in being more productive, efficient and complaint may be a game-changer for your company.
Recruitment and selection
Any good recruiter will tell you that keeping track of all the applications that arrive through multiple sources is a task that is time-consuming, stressful, and usually unsuccessful. Imagine telling a candidate - I couldn’t let you know if you’ve moved on to the next phase because I couldn’t (for the life of me) find your application? Job ad websites, LinkedIn, recommendations, career pages, and spontaneous e-mails… No wonder ATS is one of the most used HRIS. An applicant tracking system allows you to have a single source for all of your candidates, making talent acquisition about acquiring talent rather than entering data.
In addition to just processing applications, and allowing you to smoothly manage every selection phase, ATS can also allow you to gather all sorts of different metrics, so that you can analyze data and act accordingly. Which source gave the best candidates? Which hiring manager is the pickiest? Are all of our new hires from certain Universities? Is diversity present in our selection process? Is retention higher if the selection process is shorter? You can elevate your entire recruitment process if you use the data gathered by the HRIS.
Learning and development
One of the least developed HR sub-departments also has the least amount of contact with digitalization and IT solutions. However, what has been done so far is quite exceptional and extraordinarily useful. One of the first uses of an HRIS (in this department) is simply keeping track of the employee training. This is especially important for compliance training, which is mandatory, frequent, and often missed.
Afterward, a new type of HRM emerged - Learning Management System (LMS). Having an in-house solution for training and education isn’t so typical, so many companies are using external solutions. However, since remote work became the norm, LMS became almost mandatory. The ability to store all the necessary educational information in one place, and have it always accessible for your employees is not useful, but also helpful in the long run. A company that has fast, and easy-to-use software for learning can promote education as its core value, influencing company culture and employee engagement.
Another incredible application of HRIS is that it can be an employee self-service, especially when it comes to taking charge of their own development and growth within the company. You can use HR software to set goals, keep track of performance management, set a career path, and so much more. Talent management is a complex and wide topic, but you can’t improve what you can’t measure and HRIS can help you with that. Committing to certain goals, keeping track of performance, storing improvement ideas and feedback for each individual employee can lead to serious changes in the daily life of the employee and the overall results a company achieves.
Types of HRIS systems
When it comes to what HRIS systems can do, we have already listed several options. Depending on your need, and how much information you want to store, you can choose anything from a simple ATS, a more complex payroll system, vacation tracker, or a fairly simple time-tracking software. Of course, most HRIS can do more than one thing, so if you combine several you will probably be able to meet your every need.
That being said, there are also a couple of options you could have in mind. For every HR software, you can decide if you want a cloud-based solution or something stored on your company’s infrastructure. In order to access it from anywhere, it is better to choose a system stored on the cloud. However, you need to make sure your data is safe, and read the fine print.
Another important note is that you can develop your own system from scratch, or you can purchase the license for an external one. If you are considering having your own system before you start perhaps you could take a look at some open-source solutions that are already out there. If nothing else, you might get inspired. If you choose to partner up with an external provider, make sure that their solution is not only user-friendly but that it also covers a wide range of options and that they offer high-level security and around-the-clock customer support.
It is important to note that HRIS isn’t an option only for big, international companies. A lot of small businesses tend to drown in paperwork, often miss out on some important info because they are overwhelmed, and never seem to get around to sorting out all of the information they’ve gathered. Having already established workflows, being able to easily onboard new employees, and enhancing employee experience are only some of the benefits of using HRIS. And while we are on that topic…
What are the benefits of HRIS?
Using HRIS can have a significant impact on your company and the improvement would be inevitable. However, many struggle with the decision, out of fear and uncertainty. In addition to the benefits we’ve already mentioned, here are three focal points on why you should definitely consider using HRIS.
It will reduce costs
Using an HRIS means you will have a faster, streamlined HR process, that will help every employee in the company. It also means that you will be less exposed to potential lawsuits, since using an automated system will help you with compliance issues. Last, but not least, it will free up your employees to think about strategy and innovation, rather than performing repetitive tasks. All of this will lead to fewer expenses - a benefit you shouldn’t overlook.
It will improve business
You’ve decided to start using HRIS, it’s already been some time, you’ve migrated all of your data, your employees have decreased their workload...Well, now is the time to really reap the benefits of the choice you’ve made and start gathering and analyzing data. Employee satisfaction, succession planning, innovation opportunities. It all starts with having enough data and a way to read it.
It will enhance employee experience
All of these factors combined lead to the end goal of every company - a happy individual. Every single person in the company would benefit from an HR department that is agile, flexible, and up-to-date with the latest trends and innovations. It will shorten the hassle with the administrative part, streamline their own selection process, and ultimately allow time and space to grow further. This is why using an HRIS should be such a great choice.