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What is an HRIS and why do you need one?

When it comes to your employee data, the age of paper forms, file folders and filing cabinets are a thing of the past, welcoming a new era of Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS).

What is a HRIS?

So, what does an HRIS do exactly? A HRIS provides a centralized database that stores applicant tracking functions, onboarding, employee demographics, compensation and benefits choices, time-tracking, and so much more. It’s also the hub for your employee data with up-to-date information on your org’s hiring trends and employee retention.

According to a report by SHRM, almost 70% of surveyed businesses found that efficient execution of basic HR processes was their greatest challenge. So for that 70%, an effective HRIS can lead to significant gains in productivity and decreased costs from your people operations team by performing typical functions like these:

  • Streamlining employee onboarding
  • A centralized database of employee demographics
  • Retention and succession planning
  • Time-tracking, leave management and scheduling
  • Payroll and benefits administration
  • Data analytics for in-depth reporting
  • Employee self-service options
  • Org chart

When all of those capabilities become automated it creates some fruitful side effects. Here are four of them:

  1. Increased productivity:Do you like to automate recurring tasks, reduce manual processing errors and improve your data accuracy? For example, with tools like Sapling  for your HRIS, time and attendance tracking, vacation requests and accruals workflow can be quickly entered one time. It eliminates time wasted in sending forms to HR for manual processing. Employees can update their contact information, benefits choices or time-off requests directly in their employee portal.
  2. Improved operational efficiency: Your HRIS simplifies how you track, update and report on employee data. Most HRIS solutions like Sapling even allow for the uploading of hard copy forms to PDF images within the employee’s digital file and let employees upload electronic signatures on their important documents.
  3. Informed decision making:While your HRIS is streamlining productivity that enables yout HR team to do more strategic work that will improve business, “Strategic People Ops” focuses on maximizing employee lifetime value, employee wellbeing, productivity, and most importantly, driving the organization forward,” statesJeni Fahy, a contributing author at Sapling HR. For example, HRIS reports can be easily created and shared with managers and executives to help them make informed and timely decisions. Reports on employee off-boarding trends, for instance, can lead to direct employee retention efforts and plan for future company growth.
  4. Boost employee satisfaction:An effective and well-managed HRIS can promote a better employee experience. A user-friendly employee portal allows employees to navigate their benefit choices, review and update their information, easily request time off and receive approval, and learn about their company culture. This reduces calls and visits to the HR office, increases their sense of empowerment and reduces the frustration of wait times. It can also play a vital role in making your onboarding process stress-free for new hires.

How do you know if you need one?

When is it time to invest in a HR platform for your business? Here is a list of a few signs that it could be the right time to take your HR department to the next level.

  • You are losing out on great candidates- every organization is fighting a talent war, with many skill sets lacking and unemployment rates at historical lows. Job seekers are interviewing for multiple companies at once. This means time is critical when dealing with candidates. Drag things out using an outdated hiring system and the best candidates will be taken by more efficiently run companies.
  • None of your systems “talk” to each other– In a multitasking environment like human resources, there are various processes that each require a certain solution. For example, when onboarding a new employee, HR will need an applicant tracking system, as well as solutions for new hire orientation, payroll, benefits, training support, and more. Then scheduling and timekeeping, performance management, and other aspects of on-the-job success needs to be tracked. If none of your current systems sync with one another, it is time for a new HR platform with end-to-end capabilities.
  • Spreadsheets are getting too confusing– Too many human resource and payroll professionals get into the habit of using spreadsheets for everything. A Google Sheet is not sustainable. While it’s very organized, over time, the data contained in spreadsheets becomes overly complex, outdated, and there is always a risk of data breaches. A good HR platform can accept imports of the data and maintain records for ongoing reporting and tracking of nearly all employee data.
  • There is a need for custom reporting– So much of what human resource does today is work with data. Then why do many continue to try to work with systems that include outdated or clunky reporting systems? A new HR platform can provide all the custom reporting that a business needs to make bigger people decisions, while keeping things simplified.
  • Tasks are getting duplicated- There is nothing quite as annoying as having to perform the same tasks using multiple systems. But, oftentimes human resources professionals and managers find themselves having to repeat similar tasks and completing manual transfers of data from one system to another. This is inefficient and a sure sign that the company is ready for a new HR platform.


The right HRIS will save your HR team valuable time, help them to work smarter and allow them to provide strategic guidance to your company’s decision makers. Focus on finding HRIS solutions like Sapling, which will address your company’s current needs, planned growth and future business objectives.

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Written by Claire Moloney

Claire is an enthusiastic and meticulous content writer whose passion is to support growth and continual learning for everyone.


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