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What is HR Software?
HR software is commonly also called by several other names, and it can be useful to use these terms when searching for a new platform to use in a business. They include:
- HR system
- HRIS (Human Resources Information System)
- HRMS (Human Resources Management System)
- HCM software (Human Capital Management)
While some services use terms like HRIS or HRMS to indicate that they’re designed for specialised tasks, like collecting employee information, these terms are generally synonyms.
Rather than paper records, which can quickly become outdated or inconsistent, digital records are automatically updated and stored in one safe location online. Most HR software comes with a user-friendly dashboard so you can easily access information and collect application from job ads.
HR software is powerful because of how much time it can save you. HR in particular is notorious for paperwork that’s necessary, but repetitive. Using HR software means you can access any employee’s information instantly, and tasks such as payroll, calculating benefits and annual leave can be automated.
As your business grows and you recruit more staff, you’ll need an easy system to manage your recruitment, staff records, track annual leave and manage staff performance. HR software can automate many of these processes, saving you a huge amount of time and admin tasks.
Take the hassle out of HR.
Why use HR software?
If your business still operates its HR function using paper documents or spreadsheets, it’s time to go digital.
Taking your HR digital has numerous benefits including efficiency, security, accessability and cost-effectiveness.
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What does HR Software do?
Features vary depending on which HR software provider you choose.
Some are more generalist tools whilst others focus on specialist functions, such as recruitment or resourcing.
Here are some of the main features on offer.
Introducing new talent to a company often entails a lot of admin. Personal details have to be recorded, payroll established, training delivered and progress monitored. HR software exists to streamline this process and automatically track onboarding tasks that new employees have to complete.
Manually typing and posting job offers to sites is error-prone and time-consuming; these tools can typically take a template message and post it to several of the most popular job boards, and your website. Hiring managers can also keep track of applications received and communicate with candidates via the HR software.
One of the main duties of HR is to make sure that the existing talent base is working as well as it can. HR software automates the process by giving managers a unified platform for assessing employee skills, tracking improvements and flagging up potential warning signs.
HR Software FAQs
Here’s some simple, jargon-free answers.
Modern HR software works off of a monthly subscription model, usually broken into different tiers for different levels of features and support.
It’s important to note that it’s typical to charge a flat base fee per month of around £/$10 – 20 plus an additional charge for every employee in your organisation.
Zenefits’ highest plan, for example, costs around £/$20 per month per employee.
Whether or not these costs beat out that of traditional HR is something that companies should research internally before making the switch.
While charging per-employee might sound steep, good use of HR software can easily lead to leaner HR departments, saving much more overall in salaries.
As most HR software works in a web-browser, almost every computer can run them without issues. The difficulty in switching over comes primarily from learning a new system and changing the company workflow to adapt.
To make things easier, importing existing data is a standard feature, meaning that you’ll be able to continue with your existing HR records, rather than remaking them all from scratch.
If part of your business already works digitally, it’s also worth checking out what ‘integrations’ a given piece of HR software supports. Integrations basically just means what other pieces of software a program can talk to—Gusto integrates well with the popular accounting tool QuickBooks, for example.
Almost all HR software in the modern day is subscription-based, meaning that rather than a flat fee, you usually pay a small monthly fee for as long as you use the service. In addition, most also offer free trials to help judge whether or not it’s right for you.
You can usually cancel your HR software plan at anytime, but the difficulty comes with migrating your data. Moving data from one provider to another can be a difficult process. Like with CRM systems some services will offer a migration service, but this can be expensive.
This is usually clearly advertised on the product’s site. In general, privacy is of high concern for these companies, as they don’t want to be held liable for privacy breaches.
A handy tip is to check if the service follows the ISO/IEC 27001 standard, which sets out a series of general guidelines for privacy and appropriate data handling.
Because modern HR software is decentralised and easy-to-use, it’s often possible for employees to fill in and access information relevant to themselves, rather than having this done by the HR department.
Common use cases include payroll management and scheduling—letting employees see a record of their past payslips and upcoming shifts from home or on the go is a great way to get everyone on the same page without any extra effort on your part.
Self-service HR lets you offload work from your dedicated HR department, leaving them to focus on more interesting or important tasks. However, that work now gets done by your regular teams, which may lead to a dip in productivity.
Before implementing self-service functionality to your HR strategy, then, you should consider rolling it out gradually or only for certain features.
While many of the tasks done with HR software are either comparable or identical with those done with pen and paper, the fact remains that computer systems are complex and can require specialist knowledge.
To that end, many companies offer positions for human resources officers who specialise in digital implementations. Some example job titles include:
- HRIS specialist
- HR systems specialist
- HCM Sales Specialist
These specialists often work as liaisons between a company’s tech and HR departments.
They help bridge the gap between HR specialists, who may need help using a new digital system, and I.T. staff who are unfamiliar with specialised HR software and tools.
Every business is different, and finding the right HR software can be a process of trial and error. The biggest choice is whether you want to work with one single solution, or multiple HR software platforms that tackle different pain points.
Single solution – pros
- Only one platform to learn and onboard teams with
- Only one set of bills to pay
- A single source of truth for your company’s HR information
Single solutions – cons
- A jack of all trades might not be as good at specialised tasks
- Tying your company to one platform can hamper flexibility
- All-in-one platforms might not support as many integrations – they want you to themselves
Multiple platforms – pros
- Total flexibility in choosing products for particular areas
- Integrates well with legacy systems or gradual transitions to digital HR
- One service failing doesn’t affect everything else
Multiple platforms – cons
- Increased cost for each service’s license
- Much more complexity in onboarding
- No more single source of truth – have to look in many places for information
Still deciding what HR software is best for you? Read our review of the 15 best HR software.
Storing staff records? Make sure your business complies with UK data protection law. Check out this easy guide to see what you need to do!
No. It’s more than possible to run a hybrid system where parts of your HR strategy are executed online, and others are done the old-fashioned way.
Even if you plan to transition your business or department to using one of these tools, a gradual shift is usually best because it gives your teams a chance to get used to the new workflow.
To that end, moving responsibilities over to the digital platform one-by-one is a good way to make the change to digital easier.
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Top 5 HR Software
Breezy HR Free
A great choice if you’re looking for a candidate sourcing tool.
- Free version
- Strong focus on recruitment
- Post jobs to social media
- Lacks HR features
- Customers report it can be ‘buggy’
BreezyHR is an easy-to-use candidate management tool. Whilst it may not be suitable for those of you needing more of a HR software, it certainly has great recruitment features.
Great for managing employee benefits.
- Great reviews on Trustpilot
- Process payroll
- Manage HR tasks
- On-boarding features
- Better suited to larger businesses
- Mobile app could be better
Zenefits helps you to manage complicated HR processes with ease. It is best suited to managing things like health and dental insurance, payroll, new recruitment and other employee benefits.
Bernie Portal is an excellent does-it-all HR software for businesses of all sizes.
- Manage all your HR
- Simple to use
- Excellent user reviews
- Expensive price plans
Bernie Portal is suitable for businesses of any size due to its scalable solutions. The software can become expensive, due to additional packages such as applicant tracking. User reviews report excellent customer service and easy-to-use features.
Gusto is one of the best HR software for managing staff remuneration.
- Simple set-up
- Great for tax & payroll
- Cost effective
- Customer service reportedly not great
Bamboo HR Essentials
Bamboo is an all-in-one HR software for businesses of all sizes.
- Comprehensive HR management software
- Great reports feature
- Used by many small businesses
- Unclear pricing
- Some poor Trustpilot comments
Bamboo is a popular HR software offering a complete solution. You will need a quote specific to your business in order to know how much it will cost you. But you can start a free trial to check it’s right for you.