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Updated Jun 17, 2024

16 HR Tools Every HR Manager Needs

These HR tools help businesses streamline their processes and provide HR departments with quick access to employee information, from onboarding to productivity.

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Written By: Sean PeekSenior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
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The responsibilities of a human resources (HR) department are vast and depend on an organization’s size and industry. Because of this, about 80 percent of small businesses in the U.S. are using HR software, according to a report by Capterra. However, regardless of the business vertical or the number of employees, HR tools are a great way to save time and make processes more efficient without sacrificing quality.

Selecting the right one for your business requires planning, assessing organizational needs and reviewing available solutions. Thus, we compiled a list of the most essential tools for HR departments — big or small.

Editor’s note: Looking for the right HR software for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

What are HR tools?

HR software is a digital solution that streamlines managing and optimizing HR tasks and the overall goals of the business. Modern systems are cloud-based, use subscriptions and can easily integrate with other data management programs as well as be customized to a business’s goals and budget.

HR tools automate tasks that would otherwise take considerable time and administrative effort from an HR professional. Whether they’re providing recruiting services or streamlining communication efforts, HR tools allow professionals to focus more on employee engagement and less on tedious, time-consuming administrative work.

16 helpful HR tools for HR managers

Here are 16 tools every HR manager needs to know about.

Tools for recruiting, hiring and onboarding

Recruiting, hiring and onboarding tools assist HR managers in recruiting top talent, and then automating the hiring and onboarding process — all in one platform.

Here are some examples of recruiting, hiring and onboarding tools:

  • Bambee: Bambee provides businesses with a dedicated HR manager. These managers will then recruit, hire and onboard employees. They also take on other tasks such as administrative paperwork, audits, training and employee development. The employee’s manager is able to monitor and approve processes directly on the platform. Learn more in our full review of Bambee.
  • GoCo: GoCo assists businesses in automating the hiring and onboarding process. With plans starting at $5 per employee per month, GoCo is a cost-effective product for streamlining the hiring process. It helps optimize and organize paperwork while creating custom approaches, with add-on features like payroll and leave monitoring. Learn more in our full review of GoCo.
  • Appcast: Appcast uses programmatic technology to advertise job listings. The tool assists businesses in finding the right candidates for their job descriptions. A dedicated Appcast team lists open positions on multiple job boards and websites they believe the most qualified candidates will be on. The software pulls data from these candidates to ensure they’re the right fit for your business’s needs.

HR tools for tracking time and attendance

Time- and attendance-tracking tools are usually used in congruence with other HR applications, such as top payroll software, to keep track of each employee’s hours and attendance in compliance with labor laws.

Did You Know?Did you know
Time- and attendance-tracking tools help HR monitor employees’ hours and attendance while complying with labor laws.

Here are some of the best time- and attendance-tracking software:

  • OnTheClock: This software takes only a few minutes to set up and use. OnTheClock’s unique selling feature is using GPS location to see where your employees are clocking in and out. It also reduces the risk of time theft by using fingerprint technology when employees clock in at certain locations.
  • When I Work: When I Work’s scheduling tools are best suited for restaurants and retail businesses where employees do shift work. Employees have the ability to clock in and out via their mobile devices, while you are able to set time for meals and breaks. This tool also tracks time worked in accordance with time scheduled, and gives the option to allow employees to swap shifts via the app. Learn more in our full review of When I Work.
  • TimeClick: This tool is beneficial to businesses that want to store their data on their own servers and don’t need an online service. TimeClick’s system shows you who’s currently on site and how long they’ve worked. With different one-time price points, TimeClick doesn’t require the monthly fees most other time and attendance tools use. The platform also includes multiple reports that you can customize to fit your business.
  • Clockify: Clockify has a forever-free plan that will suit the majority of a small business’s needs. The software interfaces with over 80 web applications, including Salesforce, and has the option to integrate with over 2,900 applications via Zapier. Clockify also has a timer feature that allows managers or HR teams to track how long remote workers are online. Learn more in our full review of Clockify.

Survey HR tools

Survey HR tools are helpful for gathering feedback from employees. HR teams and leadership can use that data to analyze employee satisfaction, create training programs or dedicate time to building a better corporate culture from the answers received.

Here are a few examples of survey HR tools:

  • Google Forms: Google Forms is a free tool to gather information, with built-in basic survey question formats. Simply drag and drop the questions into the empty survey wireframe, customize the color, and share the link with your team. Google Forms’ reporting gives the creator an answer dashboard for quick insights as well.
  • 15Five: This tool’s unique functionality is all in its name — employees complete a survey from a manager in 15 minutes, and the manager then takes five minutes to review. Whether you manage multiple teams or need feedback from the entire company, 15Five allows the creation of segmented teams to send customized surveys to on a case-by-case basis. The tool also enables managers to send feedback to other parts of the business that can enact changes based on the answers.
  • Workleap Officevibe: This tool gathers employee satisfaction data as well as possibilities for improving a team’s efficiency. It offers a place for employees to discuss the answers to surveys sent out and creates reports that can be shared across an organization. Workleap Officevibe also has a custom polling option to monitor a team’s stance on certain projects or assignments.

HR tools for productivity

HR tools for productivity allow teams to manage their time and tasks efficiently. Here are a few examples:

  • Asana: This tool houses all tasks in one place. Whether you prefer a list or calendar view, you can achieve both personal and professional organization through Asana. Track your team’s progress through boards or create a new task list for a particular project. This tool also allows you to prioritize tasks, swap files and assign duties.
  • Evernote: Evernote syncs all your notes on all devices, no matter where the original note was written. You can also share these notes with your colleagues or employees and set reminders for yourself based on the contents of a note. With the added bonus of a search feature, scrambling through loose papers, notebooks and napkins is a stressor of the past.
  • Calendly: Calendly is a scheduling tool that syncs your calendar to a web-based appointment application. By sharing your personal link with others, you eliminate back-and-forth schedule emails and let meeting invitees choose the day and time that works best for them — and the system avoids double-booking. This is a great tool for HR specialists who need to interview dozens of candidates.

Communication HR tools

With an increasingly remote environment, communication between you and your employees is essential to running a successful business. Communication HR tools allow you to keep in touch with everyone in the organization and help uphold company culture.

Here are a few examples of communication HR tools:

  • Internal weekly email or digest: A simple email with important information including company updates, changes and communications goes a long way in engaging employees. Weekly digests are a free and easy way to relay information and reminders. To make the emails seem important, limit sending to once a month or once a quarter so employees don’t immediately hit “delete.”
  • Slack: This tool is often used to replace email communications. You can create groups within your organization — called channels — dedicated to a specific project, department or team. Slack’s chat and direct messaging functions allow for easy communication.
  • SnapComms: This multi-communication platform makes it impossible for employees to miss an important notification with its desktop alert or full-screen takeover feature. SnapComms
Bottom LineBottom line
While you can choose individual tools for tasks like recruiting, time and attendance, and communication, you can also select a complete human resources software solution. The best HR software offers all of these services in one easy-to-use platform. Learn more about top options in our Gusto review, our review of Paychex Flex and our BambooHR review.

Benefits of using HR tools

Stephen Kohler, CEO of Audira Labs, can’t overstate the importance of HR tools to his operations: “The most impactful tools are those which save time, drive efficiency, and maximize productivity for the employee and the organization overall.”

Improved efficiency

HR tools take tiresome data-entry tasks from HR professionals and automate them so that human error is virtually nonexistent. This increases efficiency, streamlines productivity and reduces time spent on tasks, such as finding basic employee information or entering data from a spreadsheet. HR tools take the guesswork out of monotonous but important HR documents and projects.

Easy access to important information

When you use HR tools, heavy files and memorizing important codes become tasks of the past. HR management-system software allows HR professionals to easily access employee information and data that monitor employee trends, communication efforts and employee status. No more wading through stacks of papers or cursing at spilled coffee on a resignation form when you have an HR tool’s electronic file system in place.

Increased ability to monitor PTO, absences and leave

Instead of countless emails or a chaotic shared calendar, HR tools allow professionals to better monitor PTO, absences and leave requests. These tools also have the ability to track an employee’s availability, the amount of leave they have allocated and can even automate the administrative task of booking holiday allowances.

FYIDid you know
HR managers can use software tools to monitor employees’ paid time off, absences and leave requests.

Better data for reporting and analysis

Data allows HR professionals to figure out what is and isn’t working within the company, even regarding employee engagement. With tools such as HR management-system software, an HR team can monitor trends such as employee satisfaction and performance to identify what needs to be improved, often in real time.

What to consider when choosing HR tools

You should ask yourself a few questions before choosing the right HR tools for your organization. First, what HR tasks eat up the majority of time in a day? Look for tasks that can be automated or may need increased efficiency to be effective. Once you identify the problem tasks, searching for an HR software tool that can automate that task — and be customized to other business needs — becomes less like trying to find a needle in a haystack and more like reaching out for the perfect fit.

Next, what is your business’s budget for a new tool? Will add-ons or monthly payments drain the company’s account? If the budget feels comfortable and includes wiggle room for must-have additions, it’s time to ask a few final questions.

TipBottom line
When choosing an HR tool, make sure that it solves your problems and scales with business growth, rather than creating more tech headaches.

Will this tool solve problems and not create more tech headaches? Can the tool scale with business growth, whether that growth means adding more employees or changing the business model?

Ensure you choose the best HR software for your business that covers key aspects from onboarding to retirement, enhancing performance reviews, payroll and other HR functions efficiently.

Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

author image
Written By: Sean PeekSenior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
Sean Peek co-founded and self-funded a small business that's grown to include more than a dozen dedicated team members. Over the years, he's become adept at navigating the intricacies of bootstrapping a new business, overseeing day-to-day operations, utilizing process automation to increase efficiencies and cut costs, and leading a small workforce. This journey has afforded him a profound understanding of the B2B landscape and the critical challenges business owners face as they start and grow their enterprises today. In addition to running his own business, Peek shares his firsthand experiences and vast knowledge to support fellow entrepreneurs, offering guidance on everything from business software to marketing strategies to HR management. In fact, his expertise has been featured in Entrepreneur, Inc. and Forbes and with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
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