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What Is an HRIS? A Smarter Way to Streamline HR Processes

February 25, 2021


Day in and day out, the leaders within your human resources department have a lot on their plate.

Whether your company is a small startup or an enterprise-level organization, there’s a long list of tasks that HR professionals need to stay on top of to ensure everything runs smoothly. Thankfully, there’s software that can help take some of the stress away and streamline these tasks in the form of an HRIS.

Essentially, an HRIS is what human resources professionals use to organize and manage all of their people-related data. These HR systems can handle, automate, and streamline processes like:

  • Benefits administration and selections
  • Time off requests and balances
  • Employee job information, like pay rates, department, and reporting manager
  • Employee demographic information, like birthdate, contact information, and address
  • Complete integration with payroll

Having all of this information in one place makes it easy for the HR department to use it as a single source of truth when pulling data and making reports. 

Before we dive in, let’s keep in mind that many individuals use the terms HRIS and HRMS (human resource management system) interchangeably depending on how you use them and what they’re used for.

What to consider when looking for an HRIS

When your company decides it’s time to invest in an HRIS, selecting the right software can be a stressful process, as there are many options on the market to choose from. 

As you weigh your options, there are some specific components to consider. For starters, think about the number of employees within your organization. Even if you work for a relatively small company of 20 people now, in a few years you could rapidly scale to be a company of 200. Because of this, it’s crucial you pick an HRIS that can grow as your business does.

Another key factor to consider is the training and support that your staff will receive after purchasing a specific HRIS. The details regarding how much training and support your team will have should be written clearly and concisely in the contract before you sign on the dotted line. 

Finally, pay special attention to the system capabilities of the HRIS. Make a list of everything you need an HRIS to be able to do, from basic HR functions to benefits administration and potential add-ons. Even if the sales person you’re working with tells you the HRIS is fully equipped with the functionality you’re looking for, always do your research!

Components of an HRIS

Human resource professionals and recruiters rely on HR technology like an HRIS when it comes to decision-making and simply making their job a little easier. These are the components you should look for when researching the right HRIS for your company.

Time and labor management

One major component of an HRIS is helping to keep track of time and labor management and the data that comes with it.

It can be a cumbersome and tedious task to monitor the hours that each and every employee on staff is putting in. Whether your business allows employees to punch into a system or log into a software solution to log their own hours, this is a lot of data that needs to be managed effectively.

In an HRIS, managers can seamlessly approve paid time off or leave requests, which is then directly linked and integrated to payroll. It can also be used to keep tabs on issues regarding punctuality and attendance.

Database management

At its core, an HRIS is an all-in-one, streamlined, and always available database where employee information is stored and managed with minimal errors. No matter who is managing the portal, anyone can easily input and update all personnel data in the system with the goal of having this information on-demand from anywhere.

Data that can be stored and housed in an HRIS include:

  • Home address
  • Compensation information
  • Emergency contact details
  • Education history
  • Personal contact information 
  • Performance review details

Essentially, anything you need to know about an employee can be found here.

Payroll functions

As an HR professional, running payroll and using the right software to help manage payroll is a crucial part of the job. With the right HRIS in place, you can effortlessly download or upload data regarding employee attendance and hours worked, as well as keep track of all deposits easier than ever before. Plus, it’ll also result in fewer payroll-related errors, which very often can lead to disgruntled and unhappy employees. 

“The HRIS I use to run payroll removes all the hassle and complexity. Plus, I  make fewer errors because I always have the most accurate employee data at my fingertips.”

Alyssa Kowalczyk
HR Generalist at Control Solutions, LLC

Benefits management

Going hand-in-hand with streamlining payroll is the fact that an HRIS helps to process everything to do with benefits. This includes not only details regarding medical benefits and retirement investments, but also communication, data, and feedback pertaining to benefits.

When benefits management is not handled effectively, it can affect the entire organization and each employee’s overall experience. Ensuring that benefits are managed right the first time is crucial to employee happiness.

Employee interface

Most HRIS software solutions also provide employees with limited access to the system to update it as they see fit. This form of employee self service makes it possible for employees to log in and update their own personal information, change details regarding their retirement benefits program, review pay scales and salary ranges, make changes to their direct deposit information, and so much more.

Having the ability to update this data themselves not only frees time up for HR professionals and managers to focus on other tasks, while also improving the efficiency of this information, ensuring all data is always up to date, and providing better transparency regarding all information, like company policy and title changes.

Talent acquisition and retention

Finally, an HRIS will also allow you to boost retention and pay more attention to talent acquisition. These tools work to improve the candidate experience by ensuring the recruiters on your team can properly source, track, and engage with the talent within the interview process.

Plus, thanks to applicant tracking systems, candidate information is always accurate so the workflow within the hiring process is managed properly.  

Benefits to using an HRIS

The right HRIS at your fingertips can benefit more than just the leaders in an HR department, but provide a long list of advantages to the company as a whole. 

Increased organization

With the right HRIS within your company’s tech stack, gone are the days where HR professionals are sifting through files or searching for the right spreadsheet. Every piece of information that is needed to grow the company and keep track of employee data is automated, easily collected and updated, and able to be searched through in just a few clicks.


The world of HR compliance is more complicated and important than ever. When your company utilizes an HRIS vendor that can help to ensure you stay on top of any new or changing rules or regulations, there’s a better chance you’ll meet all necessary requirements.

Employee experience 

Top talent wants to work at a top organization. And when your company has an HRIS that helps to streamline the onboarding process, it makes it easy for them to look up contact information of a fellow teammate or get their time off request approved in less than a day. This is all part of providing a top-level experience for all employees.

Ease of use

As an HR professional, it can be time consuming and tedious to have to consistently update information. With an HRIS, these processes are quick and simple. Time off requests can be approved in seconds. Updating policies no longer takes all day. And when changes are made, it’s not a lengthy process to ensure everything is up to date.

Plus, when a report or crucial numbers need to be presented to C-suite executives, doing so moves from being strenuous to effortless.

Best Human Resource Management Systems

Human Resource Management Systems are tools that provide users functionality across various HR software categories by using various software modules. HRMS are used by HR professionals to manage HR tasks, like recruiting, performance reviews, and employee training, within an integrated, modular system for streamlined reporting. 

These systems are most commonly used and implemented by HR departments in enterprise-level organizations. The modules within the systems can be customized and organized depending on each company’s unique needs. Typically, these systems offer a combination of software regarding core HR, recruiting, performance management, and corporate LMS.

To be included in this category, a product must:

  • Provide various modules that can be bought separately
  • Include multiple modules that can be used together to create a unified system for HR management
  • Offer users functionalities across more than one HR software category

* Below are the top five leading workforce management software solutions from G2’s Winter 2021 Grid® Report. Some reviews may be edited for clarity.

1. ADP Workforce Now

Those looking for a flexible, cloud-based HR suite should look no further than ADP Workforce Now. This software solution makes it easier for HR professionals to manage their workforce and help all organizations navigate through the challenges that may arise. It’s an all-in-one platform that bundles HR management, time and labor management, talent management, and so much more. 

What users like:

“This program makes all things attendance and payroll extremely easy. With time management simplified, this program has an easy to use interface. It does everything for you with just the click of a button, like looking at pay stub and tax information, automatically keeping up with insurance, and more. It also allows you to set different allocations so that if there is an employee working different departments or with different responsibilities; they can easily switch over without any hassle and pay rates will change automatically.”

- ADP Workforce Now Review, James T. 

What users dislike:

“ADP is the best tool in the HR area;however, the mobile application is with fewer features than the desktop software. I would like to have the mobile app (IOS and Android) have the same features. The most important point in the app is information about your paycheck (taxes, benefits, retirement, other and take home). If ADP developed their app, it will be amazing for all clients.” 

- ADP Workforce Now Review, Evgeny E. 

2. Paylocity

Looking for a way to easily manage tasks in payroll, talent, benefits, and workforce management? Check out Paylocity. This software solution allows HR professionals better focus on the task at hand as this all-in-one database simplifies how they stay organized and manage employees.

What users like:

“The reporting and access to help employees is seamless. We are able to help whenever an employee is locked out of their account. Employees have the ability to appreciate each other through the impressions feature. The community board has been a huge hit also and we have enjoyed having a larger sense of community as we continue to grow and expand across multiple locations. 

We have loved the new survey platform and have been able to complete more surveys with our staff. We are very excited in the near future to start using performance management and hopefully the web time and compensation platforms as well. That will make our department more accurate and allow us to process payroll more frequently.”

- Paylocity Review, Brittney G. 

What users dislike:

“I don’t like that Paylocity doesn’t have an electronic yearly calendar that can be run and printed out for an employee to see all PTO time taken for the year.”

- Paylocity Review, Carolyn W. 

3. Paycom

With the motto of “One System Matters,” Paycom is a fully built-out HR solution in one comprehensive database. All of your workforce data, from the tech you use to hire new employees, to the tools used to pay your staff, and even the software needed to train across departments, you’ll find in Paycom.

What users like:

“After interviewing and vetting out multiple HRIS systems, we went with Paycom! We made the right decision. I cannot say enough about the product, the service we received and all that Paycom offers. From our initial meeting through implementation, Paycom was in constant contact – schedules with timelines were created and put into place. Weekly meetings were set up with the implementation team. 

I have worked with many HRIS systems over my career and I have to say that Paycom is the best system I have used so far. We use Paycom for Payroll, Benefits, Performance Management, Onboarding, Talent Management, and so much more. The system is easy to use and navigate. Our employees are able to use the system with little to no assistance. Most of our employees use the phone app to complete tasks, request days off from work, sign off on documents, etc. Every day, I learn something new that is within the system that we can utilize to save time and streamline processes.”

- Paycom Review, Lisa F. 

What users dislike:

“I don't always receive the support I need to navigate the tool and utilize it to the best of my ability. The tool is robust and there is more than one way to do things. Paycom offers a specialist to assist, however, they do not respond to email questions within the same day. You have to call to get a question answered immediately.”

- Paycom Review, Nicole N. 

4. Workday HCM

Workday Human Capital Management is not only built to be a single system of data for HR professionals, but also to provide a single security model and a single user experience. Workday offers its users a cloud-based system that evolves with the needs of an organization. It’s user-friendly and boasts a long list of features to simplify HR functionality. 

What users like:

“I love that Workday is very user-friendly, both on the administration side and the end-user. As an administrator, I love that we can be self-sufficient. If we need to create a new report or update a report we can do that. If we need to update or create a new business process or workflow we can do that.

I also love that it has a whole suite of products that work together. It makes system fatigue less for the end-user when they can look at their payslip, change their home address, open a position for recruitment, process an expense request or take a required work training all in one place!

Lastly, I love that Workday has fantastic resources like community! I go to the community to search for best practices and how other users have solved issues often.”

- Workday HCM Review, Sonya M. 

What users dislike:

“Although most all aspects of the system are customizable and able to be changed, there are some delivered reports and processes that cannot be updated. For example, some data cannot be exported from certain reports. I believe with each new release, Workday will continue to improve and take customer feedback into consideration.”

- Workday HCM Review, Marianna M. 

5. UKG Workforce Central

UKG Workforce Central is a comprehensive suite of workforce management solutions for HR professionals. Features allow for tasks related to time and attendance, absence management, scheduling, and more. This cloud platform is scalable, secure, and mobile for organizations of all shapes and sizes.

What users like:

“The ability to review data and create reports is great. We review reports and complete checks daily to ensure our managers are paying our employees correctly. UKG Workforce Central makes this task very easy. After three years of using this product we are still discovering tools we can use.

Our managers and admin staff alike enjoy the flexibility of being able to manage time cards online via the internet. Our former software did not have this option and it caused managers to be at their desk longer each day as well as sometimes on weekends.”

- UKG Workforce Central Review, Deryck B.

What users dislike:

“UKG requires my team to use Internet Explorer which is a major pain because we aren't allowed to have internet explorer on our machines. This causes a heavy lift from our team to do any admin in the tool. Furthermore we were required to maintain an external "skin" to lay over WFC because the UI wasn’t user friendly. This caused major issues on our end if we wanted to make any changes to the tool, and required an additional level of config.”

- UKG Workforce Central Review, Matt K.

Choose your HRIS wisely! 

The right HRIS can truly do wonders for not only just your HR department, but the company as a whole. Remember to consider the current and projected needs of your company when choosing software.

An HRIS system can streamline your compensation and benefits program, but it can only do so much. Discover how to build out a plan with your employees’ needs in mind.

Streamline HR-related tasks

Save time, stay organized, and sure personal information by managing all HR reports in an HRMS.

Streamline HR-related tasks

Save time, stay organized, and sure personal information by managing all HR reports in an HRMS.

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