As business grow, the amount of HR information they handle increases rapidly – and a human resource information system or HRIS can deliver significant cost savings while enhancing operational efficiency.
A major frustration for many growing businesses is effectively managing the flood of HR information that comes to the office on a regular basis. The challenge is not only to keep the information accurate, up to date and accessible, but to meet the stringent requirements of the Information Commissioner’s Office “employment practices code”.
As businesses expand, the amount of employee data they are required to manage increases significantly.
They must manage the applications for each vacancy. They must also manage and maintain the personnel files, the holiday and absence records, the job and pay histories, the compliance records, and Occupational Health and Safety records. Often attempts to manage these records through a combination of a paper filing system, spreadsheets and productivity applications such as Outlook or Google Docs, deteriorate rapidly resulting in duplication and non-value adding activities. This in turn creates confusion and increased costs.
In my experience the way to resolve these problems is to use a human resource information system (HRIS). An HRIS offers a means of acquiring, storing, manipulating, analysing, retrieving and distributing pertinent HR information.
The HRIS allows HR activities and processes to operate electronically including the management of annual leave, time keeping and recording, absence monitoring and control, and employee regulatory compliance and monitoring. Put simply, an HRIS is a way for businesses, regardless of size, to manage key HR activities on-line.
An HRIS can help control costs whilst enabling the organisation to undertake additional HR activities without the need for additional resource. Often the HRIS is a combination of a database and an integrated document management system, such as the one offered by my own company, People Based Solutions.
It is surprising how quickly organisations move beyond the filing cabinet and Microsoft Office or Google Docs as an effective way of managing HR records.
Below are some examples of the type of information that an HRIS can manage:
- Policies and Procedures – all the organisation’s policies and procedures can be stored online and retrieved electronically. Those with permissions can modify documents online.
- Jobs and Pay – an HRIS can store job information such as job’s, job description, salary or wage information.
- Employee Records – an HRIS can keep all the records that one would find in a traditional personnel file, including original application, CV, start date, career and salary history, performance reviews, benefit and salary information to name just a few.
- Risk Management and Compliance – HRIS can help minimise risks and potential liabilities. It does this by keeping electronic records of items such as employee discipline records, training employees have received, when key documents such driving licences, insurance policies, and DBA check have been completed and when they need to be re-checked.
- Time and Attendance – an HRIS can effectively manage, monitor and control holiday records, time- sheets, sickness and other absence records.
An HRIS offers a number of benefits to small and medium sized businesses:
- Self-service options can be enabled, which allow employees to view and update their own personal data. This removes “double entry” where employees inform HR or their manager of changes to details, which are then input separately.
- Holiday cards are automated allowing employees to make holiday requests on line, which are approved on line. The holiday entitlement is automatically calculated and the holiday record is updated in real time. This eliminates the need to track and enter holidays and to calculate entitlements and remaining allowances throughout the holiday year. One of the most laborious HR administration tasks.
- Absence can be tracked and managed. As I’ve written previously, according to the CIPD’s 2014 annual employee absence survey on average employees are absent from work 6.6 days per year (public sector: 7.9, private sector: 5.5, voluntary sector: 7.4). Knowing that sickness is being monitored, can itself reduce employee sickness levels. Also, by tracking it, you will be able to identify and anticipate issues and take corrective action. An HRIS will offer reports and notifications making it easy to identify any issues with attendance.
- Puts the organisation in control of personnel files and documents. Electronic document management, as part of the HRIS, enables all physical and digital documents relating to an employee to be captured and stored. This can be done however they enter the organisation, as paper, emails or any other digital format. HR documents can be produced without undue effort for audits, performance reviews, disciplinary proceedings, legal proceedings, retirement or exit.
- An HRIS systems can notify and remind when key dates are due such as: a new employee’s start date, end of a probationary period, contract expiry, appraisal meeting, and when critical regulatory or compliance checks need to be made, such as DBS checks.
- The organisation can benefit from having all the data stored electronically in one easily accessible place. Since the data is stored electronically, they can also integrate all the data to run reports to support more informed decision making.
This article has been posted by Sean McCann, the Managing Director of People Based Solutions , an HR consultancy specialising in outsourced HR.
The value of a good quality and appropriate HRIS solution is self-evident. The question is: where can you find one, and what will it cost?