What is HRIS? An HR Professional’s Guide

what is hris

A human resources information system, or HRIS, is the most widely used software type in human resources. Hosted on the cloud, a private server, or by an outsourced vendor, an HRIS provides a centralized repository of employee data that HR managers use to streamline and automate core procedures. Considering that an HRIS has an important role in effective human resource management and planning, it’s also referred to as a human resources management system (HRMS).

What Does HRIS Software Do?

So, what is an HRIS, and how can your company benefit from one? The biggest HRIS advantage is storing, processing, and managing employee information such as names, addresses, Social Security numbers or national IDs, visa or work-permit data, and information about dependents. You can also expect these software solutions to provide HR functions that help with recruiting, talent management, applicant tracking, employee training, time management, and performance appraisals. Some options may feature employee self-service functions, along with payroll and accounting software integration.

Since it gathers purposeful data in all processes that you want to track and analyze, a human resources information system is considered a smart database of all employee information in a given organization.

The Benefits of an HRIS

Hundreds of HR software companies offer some type of HRIS. Given that each product comes with different data entry, tracking, and information features, you should take the time to pick a solution based on your company’s specific needs. This can be a serious undertaking: Organizations of all types and sizes can benefit from such software, thanks to their advanced data interaction features and comprehensive reporting capabilities. Still, this means HRIS systems are becoming more sophisticated by the day, so you need to know what to look for specifically.

To help you get a better understanding of HRIS features, we’ve compiled a list of reasons to consider using this type of HR management software:

  • Organization. One of the most apparent benefits of an HRIS is unification – all your employee spreadsheets will come together, with no disparate versions. Thanks to the advanced capabilities of these records-keeping systems, you can add, find, change, and keep track of every bit of employee-related knowledge in less than a minute.
  • Compliance. The best HRIS systems are offered by vendors who make sure that their products align with any regulations affecting human resources. These solutions are equipped to handle any changes required for the company to remain compliant with the relevant laws.
  • Efficiency. Time and labor management are no longer tedious with an HRIS. For example, leave requests and approvals take mere seconds. Vacation time and leave accrual can be tracked automatically, and none of these functions have to be maintained manually, saving HR professionals plenty of time.
  • Human resources strategy. With fewer everyday maintenance issues to resolve, HR managers can focus on advancing human resources and business strategies. A neatly organized human resource database system could prove invaluable for new ideas on improving employee retention and increasing productivity.
  • Employee experience. Most HRIS solutions allow a certain amount of user access to employees. Even a modest level of self-service can help improve how employees feel about their workplaces. Most workers interpret it as an important step toward establishing an atmosphere where they can enjoy a certain level of operational freedom. Whether it’s because of the opportunity to update their personal data, find a colleague’s contact information, change retirement benefit programs, review pay scales, or request leave, employee access to HRIS software ensures a better experience. 
  • Payroll functions. It’s safe to say that handling payroll is one of the essential tasks human resource management needs to take care of. A good HRIS should allow quick and easy download and upload of employee attendance data, making the process of wage distribution more seamless. Reducing the need for human intervention also means fewer errors, especially when calculating benefits and taxes. For companies dealing with multiple tax levels, HRIS payroll system solutions play an important role in improving tax compliance.
  • Benefits management. Every employee is affected by the company’s benefits strategy and the regulations the employee has to comply with. The way these perks are managed has a significant impact on the overall experience an employee has at work. Benefits management does not pertain only to retirement investments and medical benefits, but also to all benefits-related communication. This is where HR applications come in handy, as employers and employees alike can use HRIS platforms to enable smoother operations and complete transparency.
  • Talent acquisition and retention. An organization simply cannot grow without acquiring and retaining the right talent. Keeping this in mind, recruitment and retention are not only the most important aspects of HR management but also crucial components of an HRIS. Getting the right candidates on board is just the beginning of the process. All employees should also be offered adequate training, career path counseling, and rewards plans. Human resource information systems can improve the employee experience by fostering growth, job happiness, and company morale, while also making it easier for recruiters to find, track, and engage with suitable candidates.

HRIS Features

When exploring HRIS solutions, try not to think of the features these programs provide as a shopping list of items you’re hoping to tick. Just because one solution claims to do it all doesn’t automatically mean that it can complete the tasks well enough for you. Instead, focus on figuring out your company’s biggest challenges and compare different types of HRIS systems based on how efficiently they can solve these problems. Don’t forget about usability, either: If the solution you’ve decided on has an overly complicated interface, no one will use it, and you’ll just end up wasting your time and money.

Before you start shopping around, take a look at this list of the features these HR information systems typically offer:

  • Employee database and directory
  • Payroll management features
  • 401k management
  • Accounting
  • Scheduling software
  • Applicant tracking
  • Time-tracking and attendance
  • Leave management
  • Benefits administration
  • Training
  • Succession planning
  • Report templates and customization
  • Employee access
  • Electronic signatures

More advanced uses of HRIS enable much more than just time tracking and other basic capabilities. These software solutions can also contribute to company culture and help guide the employee experience. Good HRIS software does that by allowing employees to be in charge of their own onboarding; other than that, these products help with performance management and offer integration options with additional HR solutions, often with extensive mobile accessibility.

FAQ

What are some examples of HRIS systems?

Before you start shopping around for the best HRIS solution, remember that just as companies aren’t alike, there are many different HRIS options. Examples of HRIS features widely used by organizations of different types and sizes include payroll and benefits administration, job applicant tracking, and self-service onboarding procedures.

What are the features of HRIS?

When shopping around for an HRIS, here are the crucial software features we suggest you look for:

  • Employee data management
  • Talent management
  • Applicant tracking system
  • Recruitment and hiring capabilities
  • Employee benefits management
  • Time and attendance management
  • Onboarding capabilities
  • Learning and professional development
  • Accounting and payroll features

How does HRIS help recruitment?

Using an HRIS system to help you streamline and automate certain recruitment-related tasks makes the hiring process more convenient and enjoyable for employee candidates and more efficient for HR managers. With the help of such software solutions, candidates can gain greater insight into the company, which allows them to determine whether they are likely to remain content with the organization in the long run. On the HR side, an HRIS helps keep track of all the relevant information about candidates and hires, and speeds up the onboarding process after successful recruitment.

Why are HRIS systems important?

The answer is simple – these software solutions reduce data duplication and minimize human error, thus making HR professional’s operations easier, more efficient, and ultimately more productive. Additionally, thanks to the real-time data insights provided by an HRIS, a human resources manager can create accurate reports and gain a comprehensive understanding of the company’s status, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to take action.

Who uses HRIS?

Now that we’ve answered the question “What is an HRIS?” it’s time to learn who it was made for. The majority of HR managers use HRIS, and about half of those use cloud-based software solutions or SAAS. Most HRIS users work in companies with 100 or more employees, but businesses with less than 25 employees can also benefit from these systems. Just keep in mind that a small organization will have different needs and priorities than a company with more than 1,000 employees.