Few departments juggle as many duties or manage as much information as human resources. Technology makes the tasks of recruitment, payroll and performance evaluation more manageable and allows HR staff members to better engage with the company's employees.
Here are six HR tech tools that businesses of any size can implement for a happier, better-organized workforce.
1. HRMS (Human Resource Management System) or HRIS (Human Resource Information System)
Human resource departments have a lot of information to input, store and track. The most common method of organizing this information is with a comprehensive human resource management system (HRMS).
Whether it's a software solution or software as a service, an HRMS can be an HR representative's best friend. It stores and organizes data, such as employee profiles, schedules, attendance records and more.
Human resource information systems (HRIS) are typically more data-driven solutions that allow you to craft in-depth reports for the purposes of audits.
Most HRMS offerings, such as Paychex and Workday, act as HR's central platform and often have modules or integrations that allow you to access payroll services, benefits management, and performance evaluations.
2. Performance solutions
Performance evaluations and tracking are not only an annual meeting between supervisor and employee, but the goals and objectives discussed in that meeting are tracked and revisited throughout the year by HR. To get the most out a performance review and better formulate goals for individual employees, HR can provide managers with the tools to track their staff member's performance throughout the year, saving notes and feedback to prepare both manager and employee for the evaluation. Many HRMS and payroll solutions, such as ADP, come with a customizable performance review module.
3. Recruiting software
As the name implies, recruiting software streamlines the hiring process. You can post job ads, sort and accept applications, manage candidates and more, saving you the hassle of manually tracking everything yourself.
Small businesses, in particular, should check the pricing and features for each solution being considered: Many recruiting programs are geared toward bigger companies with large volumes of applicants. Small businesses may be better served by a less-expensive product with fewer capabilities, depending on your hiring needs. Check out Business News Daily's best picks for recruiting software here. [See Related Story: The Tech Tools Small Businesses Rely on Most]
4. Payroll service
Payroll processing is an arduous task. Make it easy on yourself (and your bookkeeper) by investing in an online payroll service. This solution automatically calculates and tracks paychecks, deductions, paid time off, etc. Some even allow you to file and pay payroll taxes and report new hires to the IRS.
5. Benefits management platform
While some payroll services allow you to administer certain benefits, such as vacation time, a more robust solution can help you manage all employee benefits including paid time off, retirement plans, health insurance, workers' compensation and other perks.
Chen Amit, CEO of payment solutions company Tipalti, says one of the best decisions his company made was outsourcing its benefits management.
"It gives our business a baseline for standard HR processes, something that at least puts you on par with larger organizations," Amit said. "Then we could focus on where to go from there: adding benefits and perks that go beyond standard dental, health, vision. It also reduces our operational footprint."
A benefits management service, however, is not necessarily the same as a professional employer organization (PEO), which operates under a co-employment arrangement. The PEO acts as a legal employer of your workforce, issuing employees' paychecks and managing benefits and compliance for you.
"PEOs can give you access to additional perks, healthcare options and expertise that you wouldn't have managing things on your own," said Jacqueline Breslin, director of human capital services at TriNet. "These benefits also help with hiring as they make working for you more attractive."
To learn more about PEOs and determine if it's the right choice for your company, read Business News Daily's PEO and employee leasing guide.
6. Employee engagement tools
Employee engagement is a high priority for many companies. With today's tech tools, you can monitor your organization's culture, giving you better insights into what your employees want.
"I've seen apps that encourage positive feedback inside the organization while helping [build] the company culture," said Pablo Brenner, CEO of Collokia, an enterprise collaboration tool.
For example, such programs as YouEarnedIt allow people to recognize and reward co-workers when they do a good job or exemplify company values. Other tools, such as TINYpulse, let you collect anonymous feedback from your team that you can use to improve your culture and operations.
When you're trying to get a feel for employees' thoughts and opinions and specific subjects, such as what type of food should be provided at the next meeting or gathering employee's opinions on a new companywide policy, sometimes it's best to use free programs like Google Forms or Survey Monkey. These tools allow you to compile honest feedback anonymously.
Other options for engagement technology include company intranet platforms such as Igloo, Podio, and OneWindow Workplace; corporate social networking apps like Yammer, WeVue, and Workplace by Facebook; and numerous enterprise collaboration and video conferencing tools that are currently available.
Ron Yekutiel, CEO and chairman of video platform Kaltura, noted that video tools may be of interest to HR departments looking to improve their hiring and training processes.
"Whether it's conducting more effective interviews through video, video conferencing to bring dispersed teams closer together, [or] onboarding and training of ... new and existing employees ... today's on-the-go workforce increasingly prefers video as a means for communication and collaboration," he said.
Choosing a solution
While it may be tempting to choose the highest-rated or least-expensive solution, it's important to do your research and find the tool that's right for your business's needs. Don't invest in certain solutions just for their own sake – some simply aren't worth a company's time, said Breslin.
"It's important to find solutions to automate tasks that would otherwise eat up valuable time in your day," she said. "However, some tasks should never be automated, such as the handling of complaints or employee conflicts."
Brenner noted that the tools you choose should be user-friendly and not create hassle or frustration for your employees.
"You wouldn't expect a millennial to read a manual on how to use a new app, so why should you expect [employees] to read the ... operating manual [for an internal software program]?" he said. "All tools should be self-explanatory, or worst case, [make it] extremely easy to access an explanatory video."
No matter what type of tools you're considering, seek out solutions that will carry your organization into the future.
"HR teams looking to stay ahead of the curve should incorporate new technologies, such as ... business collaboration systems while keeping an eye on technologies like AR and VR as they evolve," Yekutiel said. "This goes a long way in attracting today and tomorrow's workforce, and enabling teams across the organization to work effectively and increase productivity."
Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon.