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What Is a Human Resource Information System (HRIS)?

Updated Mar 24, 2023

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A human resources information system (HRIS) is an important piece of software for HR departments. In fact, it’s the most used software within HR departments for its efficiency and functionality, and one of the best types of HR software a business can implement.

Here’s a guide to what an HRIS is, its features, and how to implement an HRIS into your business.

What is a human resources information system (HRIS)?

An HRIS stores and analyzes employee data for end-to-end human resources management (HRM). This data is used in daily HR tasks, including employee recruitment, payroll processing, accounting and performance management. Also known as an HRM system, an HRIS allows HR departments to manage and control the costs and time spent on these administrative tasks.

How does an HRIS work?

An HRIS is usually cloud-based, meaning the software is managed outside of the organization, creating easy access for employees. These systems run on employee data generated by HR department personnel. The HRIS organizes this information into in-depth HR reports. Other data, such as time-off requests and benefits, are also automated through an HRIS, which makes managing these tasks easier on HR personnel.

“The most impactful tools are those which save time, drive efficiency, and maximize productivity for the employee and the organization overall,” said Stephen Kohler, CEO and founder of Audira Labs. “In today’s context, this means cloud-based, self-service platforms that allow the employee to access, monitor, and update data quickly and easily, including app-based access.”

HRIS benefits

Here are some common benefits of using an HRIS for your business:

  • Recordkeeping: An HRIS makes it easy to find data through its search functions. Since an HRIS is basically a recordkeeping system, it tracks any changes in data, allowing HR departments to access the most up-to-date employee information for personnel management.
  • Compliance: The information stored in an HRIS may come in handy for compliance purposes. Managers can use this stored data in cases of potential employee misconduct, negligence within the company, and theft or fraud. Additionally, data can be used to recertify employees or the company when certifications expire. It also stores employee citizenship, payroll information and accounting data in case of potential audits.
  • Efficiency: HR departments that don’t have an HRIS may spend excessive time filing paperwork or searching for information in countless folders. An HRIS efficiently stores all the information needed in one place.
  • Strategy: An HRIS allows HR personnel to track data that contributes to the department and the company as a whole, creating in-depth reports and strategies throughout departments.
  • Self-service: HRIS systems enable employees to take charge of their own HR tasks, including tracking their time, requesting time off and viewing their benefits. However, make sure the HRIS system you choose is user-friendly so employees can reap those benefits.
TipBottom line

Learn the most important elements of a good HRIS system before committing to one.

Types of HRIS systems and software

HRIS systems and software packages can handle or assist with various HR tasks. When you choose an HRIS, be sure it can handle your most pressing HR needs.


An applicant tracking system (ATS) is recruitment software that takes care of an HR department’s recruiting needs. It keeps track of potential candidates and measures their resumes against job descriptions and postings on job boards. It also helps recruiters smoothly move candidates through the hiring process.


HRIS systems assist with and automate the process of running payroll. As start dates and any other employee changes are updated within the system, it creates payment orders. This module takes data from other HRIS system functions, including time, attendance and employee status, to determine payment.

Benefits administration

With an efficient user interface, some HRIS systems help employees self-service their employee benefits. They can schedule time off for things like vacation or maternity leave, or sign up for certain benefits once they’re eligible.

Performance management

Managers can keep track of multiple employees’ progress through performance management software. This HRIS module provides templates for employee performance check-ins and guides to creating a performance rating system for all employees.

Time and attendance

Certain HRIS software packages can integrate with time and attendance modules that keep track of employee time data. For employees who do shift work, this system allows management to keep track of hours worked versus the amount of time each employee is scheduled to work. If an employee is late or misses work, the system can also send an alert to the manager.


It’s important for leaders to focus on employee training and learning capabilities to further the company and advocate for employees’ self-development. Training modules within an HRIS system track the employee’s skills, certifications and any other available training.

Reporting and analytics

Some HRIS capabilities include a reporting and analytics module, which provides in-depth analysis on data such as employee turnover rate, performance ratings, and employee absenteeism or tardiness. Managers can send these reports to other departments, as well as mitigate and respond to employee satisfaction concerns.

Employee self-service

More and more companies are allowing employees to take charge of their benefits and time management. From requesting time off to managing their data and performance, employees can take advantage of a user-friendly HRIS system.

FYIDid you know

If you need an HRIS system, learn more about several top options by reading our review of Rippling and our BambooHR review.

HRIS and employee data management

HRIS software systems are often touted as transactional systems. The transactions in question include tasks such as hiring a new employee or changing a worker’s employment status. The greater the number of transactions, the more data there is to analyze. These subsequent analyses allow HR personnel to notice patterns and form solutions from the data presented.

Pertinent reports for HR personnel can include the following:

  • Employee satisfaction in relation to turnover rates
  • Hiring costs according to recruitment data
  • Performance rating averages by department
FYIDid you know

Not all HRIS systems can create reports. Data may be on external software that can’t sync properly. For example, time and attendance data may be on a different system from performance management data, making it difficult to accurately report a possible correlation.

HRIS implementation

Here are the most important steps to take when implementing an HRIS:

1. Understand and explore its features.

Once you’ve set up your HRIS, take time to look over its available features and migrate your company’s data into the system. Be sure you’re adapting to the new processes the HRIS system provides to better relay these changes to your employees.

2. Focus on adoption.

Ensure your employees and leadership are familiar with the new system and provide training on using the platform for their particular duties. This step is easiest if you’ve done your research and selected a user-friendly HRIS system. Employees and management will both benefit from analytics and reports if employees use these resources properly.

3. Lean on the vendor.

The HRIS vendor will be a valuable resource while you’re finding the best ways to cater to your organization’s needs. A good vendor will have customer service options for troubleshooting as well as training opportunities so you can learn all the service’s features.

4. Stay up to date.

Many modern HRIS providers constantly update their software to improve their products, creating more value for your business. To take advantage of new features, update your software regularly and on time.

Sean Peek
Contributing Writer at
Sean Peek has written more than 100 B2B-focused articles on various subjects including business technology, marketing and business finance. In addition to researching trends, reviewing products and writing articles that help small business owners, Sean runs a content marketing agency that creates high-quality editorial content for both B2B and B2C businesses.
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