HR & Employee Management Articles

HR Software Features Guide: What to Look for in a Human Resources Solution

by Deeksha Malik and Jaipal Singh
Published on 23 June 2017

No matter how efficient you are or how much money you have if you don't have a competent and happy workforce, your business is doomed to fail. But juggling many HR tasks can take its strain and leave your human resources team too tied up with processes to dedicate time to taking care of staff.

If you have a powerful HR software in place petty tasks like adding new hires to the employee portal, keeping track of administrative forms, and updating the employee directory, can be done effortlessly. The question is how to choose the best tool that offers all the features that you need for your business? Its not that tough. If you know what features to look for, you can easily pick a tool that best suits your business' needs.

To ease things for you, we've prepared an HR software features guide which lists some basic HR functions with a brief description and then go on to explore some niche features as well. The links appended to each feature in the tables below will take you to relevant tools offering that feature, listed on GetApp's HR software directory.

Core HR software functionality

Functionality Description
Performance management Offers tools to list performance standards for employees and manage their goals, objectives, feedback, reviews and ratings in one portal to streamline the performance evaluation process.
Recruitment and applicant tracking Provides a centralized database that lets recruiters store applicant information and employment applications. Includes tools for hiring and onboarding new employees.
Workforce management Allows HR professionals to manage multiple aspects of the workforce such as benefits, attendance, leaves, payroll and tax submissions, and more.
Time and attendance Tracks employee attendance and time off (including PTO and sick leave) and enables staff to clock-in and clock-out.
Integrations The ability to integrate with other business applications such as accounting, expense management, and project management tools via third-party software integrations and APIs.
Security Ensures the security of HR records with features like role-based permissions, access controls, user authorization, and secure data storage with encryption.

Performance management features

Effective and timely performance management is one of the keys to ensuring a happy and productive workforce. Setting up goals for your employees, tracking their performance, and collecting employee feedback is no easy task. However, a powerful HR tool with performance management features can help your human resources team create great performance tracking processes that your people won't hate.

Let's look below at some of the top performance management features you can expect in an HR tool.

Feature Description
360-degree feedback Lets users collect, analyze and act on employee feedback from managers, peers, direct reports, and external contacts. Real-time, individualized reports give users accurate and objective view of each employee's skills and performance.
Career development Helps managers identify and assign relevant development items based on employee needs, create personalized development plans, and track employee satisfaction.
Feedback management Supports the ability to submit feedback for peers, managers and others, and manage feedback data to get information about performance and challenging areas.
Goal management Helps managers create and assign goals to their teams. Employees can also create goals for themselves. It ensures that all the goals and projects are directly aligned to the organization's strategy.
Goal setting and tracking Helps users categorize goals for easier analysis, set up goal weights to identify high priority goals, view status of goal sheets at any point of time, track goal achievements and take corrective actions in case achievements are slipping.
Performance appraisal Automates the employee performance appraisal process. Accommodates performance metrics like goals, objectives, KPIs, etc. and supports different performance appraisal cycles (e.g. monthly, bi-annually, or annually). Stores appraisal data at a centralized location for easy access.
Ratings and reviews Collects and maintains a central repository of employees' ratings and reviews that can be used to decide their term-end performance appraisals.
Training management Lets HR staff set up and assign training as per individual needs and sends regular reminders for those training. Employees can also self-nominate for the training. Recurring trainings can also be setup which are automatically assigned to employees.

Recruitment and applicant tracking features

Hiring managers are (hopefully) flooded with resumes during their day-to-day work. Some are good, some are exceptional, while the others are simply hopeless. Hopping through each resume manually to pick the best can be time-consuming and its possible that your hiring team overlooks a deserving candidate. A good HR solution offers recruitment and applicant tracking features that can be of help.

Feature Description
Applicant workflow Helps hiring managers manage and automate recruitment workflow by performing tasks like scanning and storage of resumes, tracking and filtering job applicants, and picking the best candidate matching the job profile.
Interview scheduling Lets hiring managers schedule bulk interviews online, sends automatic interview invitations and confirmations to candidates. Can also include interview and scorecard reminder emails.
Job application management Offers a central repository to store job applications in a organized manner that facilitates easy searching for candidates job applications, resumes, and supporting documents.
Jobs board Allows users to post jobs through external job boards like Monster, Stack Overflow, and LinkedIn.
Resume database Stores candidates' resumes in a single database. Hiring managers can search and sort resumes based on a variety of criteria. By submitting few details, users can get a detailed list of closest-match candidates, helping them choose the best candidate for a given job.
Resume parsing Imports resumes into the HR tool, converts free-form or unformatted resumes into a structured or XML format, and organizes all the resumes by keyword to improve searchability.
Resume search Simultaneously scans multiple resumes across resume databases and social media platforms to extract suitable candidates for a given job.
Social recruiting This feature allows hiring managers to post jobs and interact with candidates on social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

Workforce management features

How efficiently your HR team is able to manage day-to-day operations? Workforce management is an umbrella term that involves lots of different HR tasks like managing the employee portal, conducting surveys and collecting feedback, workflow management, and a lot more. HR tools with workforce management features can help you a great deal in managing these tasks automatically.

Feature Description
Employee lifecycle Offers functionalities to manage every facet of employee life cycle - from hiring to retiring.
Employee management Allows HR professionals to manage key employee activities such as time and attendance monitoring, employee scheduling, learning and more.
Employee portal Employees can download employee handbook and other documents, view company directory, share their thoughts through polls, view company events, and provide feedback. They can also find answers to FAQs, download policy documents, view holiday calendar, etc.
Manager self service A personalized portal or account for managers to handle basic operations like updating personal details, approving leave request, monitoring team activities and more, without burdening HR professionals.
Surveys and feedback Allows HR managers to create and share custom surveys with the employees and collect their feedback and opinion.
Workflow management Allows users to manage multiple aspects of the workforce such as benefits, attendance, leaves, payroll and tax submissions, among others.

Time and attendance features

Gone are the times when you used to track employee time and attendance by archaic wall-mounted clocks or paper time sheets. These methods were not only inaccurate and time-consuming, especially if the employee count was high and scattered, it was equally a burden on payroll costs each year. Fortunately, in recent years, time and attendance tracking software have replaced these obsolete methods. Here are some of the time and attendance tracking functionalities you would want from your HR tool.

Features Description
Absence management Enables users to monitor employee's absence, generate absence reports, and record leave.
Attendance management Helps to record and maintain digital attendance logs of employees, along with their leave history.
Calendar management This feature helps users view and schedule personal and organizational details like holidays, employee leaves, birthdays, etc. on an agenda planner.
Employee time clock Allows employees to clock in and out, mark their daily attendance, or calculate the effective working hours. Employees can punch in time using biometric and sensor devices or manually input working hours into the system.
Time off requests Enables employees to electronically submit their time off requests and get approvals from HR or managers.
Timesheet management Allows employees to record and submit the time spent on various projects and tasks, which can be used to calculate billable and non-billable hours spent on a project.
Vacation/leave tracking allows employees to apply for vacations and time off to their seniors. Managers can create different custom categories for leave and can track workforce availability on a particular date.

Integration features

You should try to avoid choosing an HR solution that doesn't integrate well with your existing software. Don't fret, as many cloud-based HR tools offer integrations with other cloud-based solutions, ensuring seamless flow of data between applications. Look below to see some of the features that will help your HR tool to integrate with your existing software stack.

Feature Description
API An API - Application Programming Interface - allows users to interface the HR software with external applications such as talent management, payroll management, accounting, and more. This helps to extend capabilities of the combined system.
Email integration Offers the ability to integrate multiple email accounts such as Gmail and Outlook to centrally manage all email communications from one location. This helps recruiters to pull contacts from multiple accounts and build a centralized contact database, and write and send emails directly from one application.
Mobile integration Supports HR data accessibility through native mobile apps or via mobile web-browser allowing users to remotely view employment and attendance data from their smartphones.
Payroll integration Allows HR staff to seamlessly transfer employee working hour details between HRIS and external payroll solution and create accurate payrolls. Such integration also eliminates the need for duplicate data entry as the information is synchronized between the applications in real-time.
Social media integration Allows HR professionals, especially recruiters to use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to advertise open jobs, engage with employees via posts and tweets on social channels and even share details related to company event on these platforms.
Time clock integration Offers the capability to integrate independent time clock software applications with the HRIS solution and facilitates the transfer of time and attendance data between the applications.

Security features

When selecting any online HR system data security is one of the chief concerns for businesses - especially when it comes to the sensitive HR data. Most of the HR tools are committed to guarding your data from both internal and external threats.

Feature Description
Monitoring Reflects continuous monitoring of business information 24/7, whether it is stored on local machines or on a remote cloud.
Role-based permissions Categorizes users into separate groups according to their roles (administrators, managers, supervisors, IT, employees, interns) and grants them different system access permissions.
Secure data storage Ensures proper protection of employee's personal information and financial data through centralized data storage, role-based access, timely backups, and enterprise-grade data encryption.
User access controls Defines and allows access rights to administrators as well as others for any data, file, folder, application, printer, scanner, etc.

Additional features

Besides the above features, there are several additional functionalities that any good HR solution will offer. Let us have a quick glance at these as well.

Features Description
Benefits management Manages employee benefits such as paid time off, medical or life insurance policies, and 401k participation.
Compensation management Tracks different types of compensation available and awarded to employees.
Compliance management Allows companies to stay compliant by storing, preparing and reporting critical employment, benefits and compensation data in set legal formats.
Customizable branding Allows businesses to brand the app with their business logo, taglines, and themes at various interfaces of the application, such as the start page, dashboard, reports, emails, and more.
Gamification Helps organizations to set up a reward system for employees in which they can score points, badges and ratings for completing tasks, trainings and other activities.
Learning management Enables the HR team to build, manage, and deploy professional learning courses for employees at individual or organization-wide levels and keep a track of their learning.
Payroll management Tracks employee salaries, bonuses, 401k contributions, health and other deductions; calculates withholding for taxes, and cuts paychecks.
Succession planning Enables HR staff and managers to systematically collect employee's performance data, identify outperformers within the organization, and create growth opportunities.

Next steps

Hopefully our HR software feature guide has given you more of an idea of the tools you need within your solution before you start shortlisting and testing apps. Here are some handy GetApp resources to help you with your HR software selection: