We wanted to put together a list of five features to look for in an HRIS when you are shopping around. Some of these features seem like a no-brainer, especially since we are talking about human resources information systems, however, you’d be surprised to know that not one of the features mentioned is found in 100% of HRISs. Nothing is a given with this fast-changing technology and the HR software marketing, but these are the list of features that we think are non-negotiable. While this list is not exhaustive, it’s a good starting place to understand what is important and why when shopping for HR software and can help differentiate between your list of needs and wants when ultimately deciding what to purchase.
Ability to Import/Export Data
According to CompareHRIS.com, a comprehensive website dedicated to helping human resource professionals in the process of selecting an HR software vendor - the ability to import/export data appears in almost 87% of HRISs. This feature is important, not only if you are switching from one vendor to another for your HR software needs, but also ensures that you are not blocked into one vendor should you outgrow the choice you make now. In an ideal world, vendors would grow and change as our companies grow and change, but we know that is just not the case - and is probably why you’re out shopping for a new vendor now! Another reason this feature can come in handy is the “bulk editing” portion, essentially if you have to make changes to multiple profiles at once, downloading a spreadsheet of information - quickly making changes - and then re-uploading is a breeze compared to the amount of manual labor that goes into changing each person’s information one-by-one.
Another really handy feature that comes in a lot, but not all, HRISs are an e-forms feature. E-forms are a way to have questions answered by staff and electronically submitted, or even to collect signatures as a sign of acknowledgement on important information that would otherwise have to be collected offline. From there, this information can be stored within employee profiles, printed off and stored in files, or any other number of use cases you can think of. Forget having additional meetings to take up your employees valuable time and instead send them an e-form to inform, collect, and respond to inquiries. This features benefits range from standardization to higher accountability among employees, to faster resolution of problems or response to staff needs. With this feature there is a constant ability for an open feedback loop and to resolve issues carefully and efficiently. This is a feature that you don’t want to miss out on!
The option to have an employee self-service portal, while not offered by all software, is really beneficial to look for from your vendor. A minor breakdown in communication from a lost email in a spam folder, can wreak havoc on HR’s ability to hold employees accountable to information that has been disseminated throughout the organization. These breakdowns can lead to a perception of a lack of transparency and, really, just the miscommunication is annoying enough. Employee self-service to the rescue! Not only does this feature allow for anytime access for anyone - but it increase the efficiency in which employees receive the information pertinent to them. Other simple tasks that can be completed through an employee self-service portal is requesting time off, submitting time off or hours worked outside the office, accessing human-resources related information or new company policies, checking PTO balance, or pay stubs. There is so much more benefit to be had from an employee self-service portal but these are just a few examples that right now, HR employees are tired of answering questions pertaining to these issues or employees are using up valuable time to ask. Imagine spending time on the human side of human resources instead of updating addresses or contact information, granting access to online training or sending notifications of important updates. This feature is a benefit to employees, managers, and HR staff alike!
Never miss an important date again with these alerts! Within an HRIS that has an Email Alerts feature, nevermind your memory and instead rely on the system to alert you via email of important to-dos, dates, events. This feature is really self explanatory in the benefits that it can bring to your organization as a whole from individual contributors to managers, every person that needs an extra reminder now can have access to an email alert that is set by yourself, for yourself, or from a manager to an employee. Step away from the tireless work of reminding employees of their benefit eligibility, license expirations and training renewals and instead rely on the email alerts built into most HRIS systems to help aid in the reminder process. Free up your brain space and your day with this feature to ensure that everything is still on time and up-to-date, but instead of a human reminder it is now all done through convenient automation!
Job and Pay History
While this is just a minor feature within any HRIS - it goes without saying that it is important to keep this information. Whenever job changes happen, pay changes take place, or people move throughout the organization, keeping a detailed record is valuable information - especially if there is turnover within HR. Keep everyone on the same page when it comes to employee records with this feature. It goes without saying that a Human Resources Information System should be able to keep this information accessible and organized, but it is something to be on the lookout for within any system, just the same.
We hope this is helpful to guide your research when looking for an HRIS that is going to meet your needs. Is there anything on this list that surprised you? Are there any non-negotiables for your company when looking for an HRIS? What features in your current HRIS are life-savers (read: job-savers)?