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HRIS: How It Works, What It Can Do, and Why It Matters

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HRIS or HRISS might not sound catchy, but for those in the industry, it is a tool of immense value. In fact, a properly-implemented HRIS can help take your business to the next level. Here’s how…

In this article, we reveal what an HRIS – a Human Resource Management System – actually does, why it’s important, and what features and functions it should always include.

Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS)?

Back in the day, when all HR documents were stored on paper, going into the HR office was like entering a library: A hallowed, hushed environment where valuable texts containing the secrets of the employee universe were stored.

In this office, you would find wall-to-wall filing cabinets, as stern-looking HR clerks would interrogate you before they trusted you enough to share with you the information you needed.

Today, going into an HR office – or just sticking your head around the corner to their collection of desks – is a much more welcoming experience. Sure, HR leaders might still look at bit stern when they’re interrupted, as we all do when we’re thinking hard, but at least their offices are digitized. Or, are they?

A mere three years ago, in a survey of 100 UK-based decision makers, 65% of people admitted that their HR information is still managed using paper documents, paper-based processes, and stored in filing cabinets. Clearly, these people had never heard of an HRIS.

Is It Time for Your Team to Digitize?

The Cost of Doing Nothing

Read this complimentary guide to find out why doing nothing, when it comes to your HR, may cost you a lot – including your company’s success.

What Is an HRIS?

An HRIS, also known as a Human Resources Information System, or sometimes as Human Resources Information System software (HRIS software) and sometimes called a Human Resource Management System (HRMS) is a software tool designed to make it easier to manage HR processes and data.

These typically combine many (if not all) HR processes, including but not limited to:

  • Recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • HR management
  • Payment
  • Performance
  • Employee development

Generally, an HRIS combines multiple sources of data so that it’s easy to store and find information related to employees from the moment that their future job is advertised until they retire or leave the business.

What’s the Difference Between HRIS, HRIS Systems, and HRIS Software?

An HRIS is the same thing as an HRIS system and HRIS software. However, sometimes the ‘S’ in HRIS stands for system, sometimes it stands for solution, and sometimes it stands for software. So, technically, it’s not always wrong to say HRIS solution or HRIS software or even HRISSS – because you could also call it an HR Information System Software Solution if you want, as long as it does what it needs to do.

What Does an HRIS Actually Do?

To understand what an HRIS does, let’s cast our minds back to the old-world filing system that existed before digitization and online HR software was commonplace. In this world, a human would write, type, or print a document. Then, they would decide where it was stored, walk over to a filing cabinet, file the document in a logical place, and then lock it up with a key. When they needed to access this same information, they had to remember where it was filed, go to the location, unlock it, access the document, get the information it contained, and use it. Then, they would return the file, close the filing system, and secure it again.

An HRIS does pretty much the same thing, but digitally. Essentially, an HRIS connects human resources (people) with information (that used to live in filing cabinets). The only difference is that an HRIS uses information technology or HR software to do everything described above electronically and seamlessly – sometimes even at the touch of a button.

What Benefits Can You Get From An HRIS?

Saving Time

An HR Information System is designed to make core HR activities as easy as possible by digitizing them: Whether that is calculating absence entitlements, tracking attendance, making payroll, or any of the dozens of other time-consuming processes that absorb HR employees’ attention every day.

With an HRIS that connects data seamlessly between systems you don’t have to re-enter info, you get consistent and repeatable processes, it’s easier to share information across the business, capture signatures from people, and generally save time so you get more time for what you love doing.

Getting Organized and Finding the Information You Need

In essence, an HRIS system helps HR teams get organized. This, in turn, can improve an entire company’s responsiveness to people’s work-based needs.

Instead of searching through filing cabinets, an HRIS lets you have employee data right at your fingertips. With a central data repository, you get better data management with less effort that is stored securely in one place.

In addition, anyone who has relevant access can find the information whenever they need it, and easily. That means without having to rely on someone in HR to unlock a filing cabinet.

Remaining Compliant

In our data-driven world, it’s important for HR to trust that their people-related data is safe and secure.

Therefore, it’s not enough to know that only the right people can access the right level of information about employees or candidates. It’s just as important to comply with other legislation – like the requirement to be able to delete information about candidates when it’s relevant, too.

An HRIS that is built on solid data protection and compliance foundations should allow you to operate in a complex or regulated business market with the utmost confidence.

Improving the Candidate or Employee Experience

A 2018 report by the iCIMS says that 95% of respondents believe “that the way a potential employer treats them as a candidate is a reflection of how they would treat them as an employee.”

So, if you want to start off on the right foot, it’s worth creating a great experience with your potential employees from the moment they interact with your business.

Some HRIS solutions with expertise in applicant sourcing can help employers publish job adverts from the same platform, edit them easily, and even help them manage everything in one platform.

Staying Strategic

We recently conducted research with HR managers about what they would want to change about their jobs if they could. 80% of them said they would like to be more involved in strategic decision-making.

Unfortunately, it’s only possible to be truly strategic once HR operations are running smoothly. That’s why implementing a good HRIS can actually be a highly strategic move.

By automating and simplifying HR tasks people outside of the HR team are enabled to manage their own data and processes, within a stable, well-thought-out framework. When data and processes are seamlessly integrated with each other HR leaders have more time for strategic HR initiatives.

This could even include overdue things like change management processes (click here to read more about them). Basically, when you have an HRIS, strategy can become a primary function of HR.

What Features Should A Good HRIS Have?

A strong HRIS software solution should include a certain level of basic functionality. This would mean allowing those using it to manage all employee information and all relevant company-related documents – from employee handbooks to safety guidelines.

It should help HR teams (and employees themselves) manage and access the relevant benefits information, ideally using a self-service approach. A good HRIS should integrate with payroll. It should also help with applicant sourcing, for example, by tracking job applicants and managing their CVs.

It should provide the backbone of an employee management system – including being able to record, track, and provide relevant employees and managers with access to training records, performance reviews, performance development plans, disciplinary-related processes, or documentation.

When Should You Get HRIS Software?

If you’re struggling with HR paperwork and know there must be a better way to deal with it, then it’s time to get an HRIS. Or, when you’re concerned that your HR documents or processes might be audited, you should already have an HRIS in place – or get one immediately!

If you’re ready to see a bigger picture of your employee data – for example, to get a deeper understanding of performance across the board, then you should consider HRIS software.

When you want to simplify the processes of everything from applicant sourcing and tracking to onboarding, document management, attendance tracking, and managing time off, you need an HRIS.

In essence, if there’s anything related to HR documentation that you could plan, store, save, access, or retrieve in a digital way, you should get an HRIS.

If you don’t have one yet, maybe it’s time to find out whether an HRIS like Personio could work for you?

How Can Personio’s HR Solution Help?

At Personio, we produce software that helps HR professionals manage their information.

For us, it’s about more than just data or information storage and accessibility. In fact, our goal is to make HR professionals real heroes by giving them more time to focus on what matters most: Their employees.

Sure, our software digitizes and simplifies time-consuming HR processes – but what it really does is give HR leaders and their teams more time to focus on strategic topics like talent development or employer branding.

Until now, we’ve freed some 2,500 customers from administrative chaos. That’s only the beginning, though. We believe there can never be too many HR heroes. Unleash your inner HR hero. We’ll help you take the lead today.

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