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What Is a Human Resource Information System (HRIS)?

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    A human resource information system (HRIS) is software for managing and optimizing an organization’s HR tasks, including payroll, onboarding, time tracking, development, benefits administration and more. Read how the tech frees HR professionals from manual tasks and tedious data reentry, so they can focus on empowering employees and strategic planning.

    Between complying with complex legal requirements and staying competitive in their industries, businesses need every advantage they can find. A human resource information system (HRIS) helps companies automate and simplify tedious tasks, so their HR professionals can focus on the human side of their work. Here’s how.

    What is an HRIS?

    An HRIS is software for managing and optimizing an organization’s HR tasks. It merges basic HR activities and processes with new and emerging technology, allowing organizations to efficiently handle employee data and streamline functions like:

    This facilitates more organized and data-driven decision-making, enhancing the effectiveness and productivity of HR departments.

    How does an HRIS work?

    An HRIS functions as integrated software that centralizes, streamlines and automates various HR processes within an organization. By consolidating a wide array of HR functions into one setting, HRIS enhances efficiency, improves data accuracy and provides strategic insights through data analytics. In turn, an HRIS helps businesses make better, more informed strategic decisions.

    What are the uses of an HRIS?

    An HRIS is used for specific purposes, too, like:

    • storing and organizing employee data
    • automating payroll processing
    • managing recruitment tasks
    • tracking employee performance
    • administering benefits

    Since it’s centralized, an HRIS simplifies HR professionals’ and employees’ access and management of HR-related tasks, which can help improve efficiency, ensure compliance and promote data-driven operations.

    What are the most common functions and objectives of an HRIS?

    Every HRIS platform is different. Choosing the right HR software for your business requires thorough research and demoing the product to ensure the tech offers exactly what you need.

    With that in mind, here are some of the most common HRIS features to look out for.

    Payroll management

    Payroll management streamlines and automates the process of paying employees, helping ensure accuracy and compliance with relevant laws and regulations. An integrated HRIS can handle all aspects of payroll, from calculating wages and withholding taxes to distributing paychecks and managing direct deposits. It can also efficiently track:

    • hours worked
    • overtime
    • bonuses
    • deductions
    • benefits
    • and more

    At the same time, automated payroll helps significantly reduce the likelihood of errors.

    HRIS platforms often include features for generating reports and integrating with other financial systems, providing a comprehensive view of payroll expenses. This simplifies the administrative burden on HR departments and enhances transparency and accessibility for employees, empowering them with real-time access to their pay.

    Recruiting and onboarding

    HRIS software enhances recruitment and onboarding by automating job postings, tracking applications and managing candidate information. This creates an opportunity for more organized and targeted approaches to talent acquisition.

    For onboarding, the HRIS simplifies the integration of new employees into the organization. It manages critical steps like document collection, initial training schedules and integration into company systems, ensuring a smooth transition for new hires.

    Not only does this comprehensive approach save time and resources — it improves the candidate and employee experience, creating a positive first impression and setting the stage for long-term engagement.

    Benefits administration

    Benefits administration is the streamlined, automated approach to managing employee benefits. It allows HR departments to efficiently oversee and control various employee benefits programs, such as:

    With HRIS, employees can easily access and select their benefits online or even on their mobile device. The software simultaneously ensures compliance with relevant laws and regulations, updates benefit enrollments and handles related data processing.

    This automation is designed to reduce administrative burden and human error, providing a more accurate and employee-friendly experience. Moreover, HRIS allows for better tracking and analysis of benefit costs and usage, aiding a company’s planning and budget management.

    Applicant tracking system

    An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a specialized tool designed to automate the recruitment process. It helps HR professionals efficiently:

    • manage job postings
    • organize applications
    • screen candidates
    • communicate with applicants

    An ATS typically includes features that help create and post job listings to various channels, store applicant data, filter candidates based on predefined criteria and assist in scheduling interviews. In other words, it significantly streamlines the recruitment workflow, reduces time-to-hire and boosts the quality of the hiring process.

    Fully integrated with an HRIS, ATS ensures a seamless transition from candidate to employee for a more organized and effective onboarding process.

    Reports and analytics

    An HRIS can provide insightful data and metrics to guide strategic decision-making in an organization through reports and analytics. These tools enable HR professionals to gather, analyze and visualize a wide range of workforce data, from employee performance and turnover rates to recruitment efficiency and compensation trends.

    With its advanced reporting capabilities, an HRIS can generate customizable reports that help identify patterns, forecast future HR needs, and assess the effectiveness of HR policies and initiatives. HRIS analytics go a step further by offering actionable insights, which in turn help businesses make better, more data-driven moves. This analytical power optimizes HR processes and aligns them with the broader business goals, improving overall organizational performance.


    Integrations refer to an HRIS platform’s ability to seamlessly connect and exchange data with other software applications an organization uses, creating a unified and efficient workflow across various business functions.

    HRIS integrations can include connections with accounting software for payroll processing, talent management systems for comprehensive HR planning or even some third-party providers for benefits administration.

    Through these integrations, HRIS serves as a central hub that simplifies data management, eliminates needless data reentry and ensures accuracy and consistency across all platforms. This allows for a more holistic view of organizational operations, which encourages strategy and ultimately enhances overall business performance.

    Training and development

    Training and development play a crucial role in managing and enhancing employees’ skills and professional growth. Through an HRIS, HR teams can effectively organize, track and administer training programs and development initiatives. This includes:

    • scheduling training sessions
    • monitoring attendance
    • managing training resources
    • assessing the effectiveness of the programs through feedback and performance evaluations

    Some HRIS software can also create personalized development plans for employees, aligning their career aspirations with organizational goals.

    Ultimately, an HRIS can help empower your employees to take charge of their learning and development with easy access to training materials and progress tracking. This not only boosts employee engagement and retention — it also ensures that the workforce evolves in tandem with the changing needs and strategies of your business.

    Performance management

    When it comes to systematically evaluating and improving employee productivity, performance management is essential. This functionality lets organizations:

    • set clear performance standards and goals
    • track employee progress
    • provide regular feedback and appraisals

    Managers can conduct and record performance reviews and set individual or team objectives and link them to broader business strategies. Certain HRIS software features continuous monitoring and real-time feedback, so you can swiftly identify and address performance issues.

    Moreover, HRIS provides performance-related analytics and reporting tools, offering insights into employee productivity trends while helping in talent identification and succession planning. This comprehensive approach to performance management can improve productivity on an individual and team level to foster a culture of continuous improvement.

    Employee and manager self-service

    Self-service tools empower employees and managers to take control of various HR-related tasks independently, without needing direct intervention from HR personnel. They allow employees to access and manage their:

    • personal information
    • benefits selections
    • time-off requests
    • training

    Meanwhile, managers can approve requests, access team information and conduct performance reviews.

    This autonomy bolsters overall efficiency by streamlining processes and reducing administrative overhead for HR. It also can help cultivate a more engaged and proactive workforce by allowing employees and managers to access vital information and perform HR tasks at their convenience.

    Through promoting transparency and ease of access, employee and manager self-service tools contribute significantly to overall organizational efficiency and employee satisfaction.

    Communications and documents management

    This component of HRIS helps businesses maintain an efficient, organized and secure information flow. It centralizes and streamlines the handling of all HR-related documents, such as:

    • employment contracts
    • company policies
    • employee handbooks
    • performance evaluations

    It also provides a platform for secure storage, easy retrieval and management of these documents, ensuring compliance with legal record-keeping requirements and data privacy laws.

    Additionally, the communication tools of an HRIS help HR departments quickly and effectively distribute information (such as company announcements or policy updates) directly through the software.

    This level of integration ensures all employees can access the latest information and documents relevant to their role and the business, improving transparency and consistency throughout all HR processes.

    What are the benefits of HRIS?

    An HRIS can bring countless benefits to an organization, primarily by enhancing the overall efficiency and effectiveness of HR. Key among these is the automation of routine tasks such as payroll processing, benefits administration and attendance tracking, which reduces manual workload and minimizes errors.

    An HRIS also centralizes employee data and makes it easier to manage and access, which improves data accuracy and security. And it allows for better decision-making through robust reporting and analytics tools, empowering HR professionals to analyze trends and make informed strategic decisions.

    Furthermore, HRIS supports compliance with employment laws and regulations, reducing the risk of noncompliance penalties. It also improves employee engagement by offering self-service options for workers to manage their personal information and requests, which fosters workplace satisfaction. And by integrating every HR function, HRIS provides a unified channel to streamline processes and improve overall organizational productivity.

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of HRIS?

    Advantages of HRIS include increased efficiency in HR processes, improved data accuracy and accessibility, enhanced decision-making through analytics and better regulatory compliance.

    However, with the wrong HRIS, organizations could experience:

    • complex and time-consuming implementation
    • potential privacy and security risks related to employee data
    • the need for ongoing training and system updates to adapt to changing HR needs

    HRIS vs. HCM vs. HRMS: the difference

    An HRIS primarily focuses on the administrative aspects of HR, such as payroll, employee personal information and benefits administration. HCM (or “human capital management”) encompasses many HRIS functionalities but also emphasizes talent management features like recruitment, performance management and employee development. HRMS (or “human resource management system”) is often used interchangeably with HRIS. However, it can sometimes be more comprehensive, with the addition of tools like labor and workforce management.

    What should you consider when choosing an HRIS?

    When choosing an HRIS, it’s important to evaluate your business’s specific needs and processes, ensuring the system aligns with your specific HR objectives and workflows. Consider factors like:

    • cost
    • scalability
    • ease of use
    • integration capabilities
    • client support
    • the software’s ability to comply with current legal and regulatory requirements

    These considerations will help you select the ideal HRIS for your business — one that meets all your current needs while adapting to future changes and growth.

    How do companies implement an HRIS?

    Before you decide on an HRIS provider, your business should conduct a thorough needs assessment to identify your specific requirements. This should be followed by carefully evaluating and selecting vendors, considering factors like functionality, compatibility, user-friendliness and cost.

    Once you’ve chosen your ideal HRIS platform, engage key stakeholders across departments for their input and support, ensuring it aligns with organizational needs, for HR and beyond. This will help to develop a detailed implementation plan that outlines timelines, resource allocation and training schedules.

    From there, data preparation is critical, requiring the cleaning and migration of existing data into the new system. Customizing and integrating the HRIS to work seamlessly with other existing organizational software is a crucial step, as is comprehensive training for all users to facilitate smooth adoption.

    Ideally, your HRIS provider should offer a dedicated specialist to support you throughout not just implementation, but at least through your first payroll with the software.

    Before full implementation, be sure to conduct rigorous testing of the system to iron out any issues.

    Finally, it’s go-live time. Continue to monitor and gather feedback for ongoing improvements to ensure the HRIS evolves with the organization’s changing needs. Effective communication and change management strategies throughout this process are crucial for successful implementation.

    Is Paycom an HRIS?

    Yes, Paycom is an HRIS. Paycom offers a comprehensive suite of tools that automate and streamline every core HR function. Best of all, it integrates all those functions into an easy-to-use, single software.

    Explore our resources to learn about other foundation HR topics and more.

    DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.