There are many good reasons to work in Human Resources. Perhaps you like helping people grow their careers, or it gives you a thrill to capture the latest talent for your firm. But the one thing you probably didn’t put in your “must have” dream job description was wading through a pile of administrative chores. It can be difficult to think creatively about the future of your industry when you’re spending your time entering payroll details and processing benefits.

While these types of tasks will always be a factor, the new generation Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) represent a paradigm shift not just for HR professionals but also for the workplace as a whole – one that will reduce admin time and clear space for more creative and strategic tasks. Here’s the what and why of how HRIS can streamline your work flow and boost employee morale all at once.

What is HRIS?

HRIS, sometimes called an Employee Portal, is software that controls HR functions on both the HR and employee sides of a business. And, like everything these days, HRIS is shifting increasingly online to the cloud.

Any good HRIS will enable the management, reporting and analysis of employee information. This includes enrollment in business health plans, status changes, history of pay raises and positions held, performance reviews and development plans, training received, any disciplinary action taken, and attendance records. When it comes to hiring new applicants, HRIS will allow for applicant tracking, resume management, interview scheduling, and any processes involved with the selection of good candidates.

Lastly, HRIS often host employee handbooks and other company-related documents, like safety guidelines and any emergency evacuation procedures.

What can HRIS do for my organizaiton?

The benefits of HRIS are innumerable. First, HRIS tell you pretty much everything you need to know about an employee without having to chase them through the building. On the HR side, you’ll have a streamlined, centralized system where you can access whatever data you need in order to do your job and move on.

Plus, these systems do a lot more than simply sort and manage data. They come equipped with powerful analytical features that can integrate and process data. When, say, employee performance ratings are quickly packaged into a comparative graph, it is much easier for HR professionals to identify rising stars as well as employees who are under performing. Overall, this increases productivity and innovation in the workplace, enabling HR to alert management more quickly to fix problem areas and suggest promotions.

What’s more, employees can enter their own data, meaning they can do tasks like updating their address themselves, rather than piling this onto the HR admin bottleneck. There is also complete integration between payroll and company financial software and accounting systems, allowing employees to input time and HR to process payroll seamlessly.

Lastly, when all employees have access to the training resources available on HRIS, they are able to access materials at all times, making training more convenient and efficient.

Overall, a centralized, data-integrated HRIS improves the efficiency of work on both ends, as well as reporting and morale through real-time reporting, payment, scheduling, receiving of benefits, and training.

How you can get one.

There are many different HRIS available. Oracle’s PeopleSoft is one of the biggest and most respected in the industry. Ascentis is another good option for big companies, while Sage is a cost-effective option for small to mid-size businesses.

The real answer, of course, depends on any given business’ focus and needs, as not all systems will have every capability. For the most specialized businesses, it can sometimes be most efficient to build an HRIS through a company that does web application(s) development. This can actually be more cost-effective and timely than buying a one-size fits all system and trying to customize it to the needs of your organization, especially with companies that use agile development systems to turn the product around quickly.

As an example, look to Brisa, which used the company OutSystems to develop a centralized employee directory for the seven hundred tollbooths it operates throughout Spain. OutSystems was able to integrate several different systems into one centralized hub employees could access remotely to enter data and submit requests. The product was delivered in five weeks and has since enabled Brisa to better manage employees in just the right way for their highly mobile business. This was a vast improvement over the bandaid approach Brisa had previously employed, trying to merge data from different systems with different capabilities, as as not one of them did everything they needed it to.

No matter what brand you choose, switching onto an HRIS is a must for any modern business. The fewer administrative hassles there are for both employees and HR alike, the faster everyone can get to the creative, innovation-focused tasks that will keep the profits and the new recruits rolling in.