If you've never worked in HR - congratulations - you don't know how complicated it can be! While it might sound simple, managing the sheer amount of data and tasks that a modern business collects on a daily basis is a marathon task, though one that is thankfully made more simple with effective HR systems. Let's take a look at what an HR system is, and why they can be beneficial for today's HR professionals.

What is an HR system?

At its simplest, an HR system is any tool which can be used by Human Resources departments to more efficiently store, process, and report on information and data. As this broad definition might imply, there's a huge variety of HR systems out there, including both automated and non-automated ones, and the right system for your department will depend upon lots of factors including the size of your company and your budget.

In a nutshell, non-automated HR systems include spreadsheets and databases which need to be updated and utilised manually, while automated HR systems might include bespoke HR software and other contemporary solutions.

Non-automated HR systems can still work in small companies where perhaps the HR department is a single staff member, but for larger companies non-automated systems can hurt more than help. When multiple employees need to access, edit, and report on data at the same time, this can lead to increased errors and security issues, and things start getting a bit tricky.

What can HR systems do?

The capabilities of any HR system will depend on the type of system you've opted for, as well as your needs as a business. However, various HR systems can assist with:

  • Managing employee records
  • Streamlining holiday requests
  • Automating the creation of charts and graphs
  • Analysing training needs
  • Automating recruitment correspondence and procedure
  • Managing shift plans and attendance

What kind of HR systems are available?

If you're considering updating your own HR system, it's worth understanding the different types of HR systems available and why you might choose one over the other.

Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS)

An HRIS is an employee database. Used for record keeping and beneficial in various employee management tasks including recruiting and tracking applicants, managing payroll, and ensuring relevant legal requirements are met. HRIS software can be implemented either as one part of a mix-and-match digital solution, or it can be used to meet all of a business's HR needs by itself.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

This type of HR software is useful in recruitment, an ATS can be used to post job openings across multiple sites, store candidate data, and sift applications.


As you might guess, Onboarding software is software which is used to streamline the onboarding process when new employees are welcomed to the business. From electronic contracts and training management to employee questionnaires and tax codes, it's the job of Onboarding software to make the onboarding process smooth for both employer and employee.

Performance Management software

Performance Management software is an HR management system that can be used by HR professionals to assess employee performance and skills, as well as setting targets for goals and tracking improvement.

Employee Engagement software

Employee Engagement software is used by HR professionals trying to focus on increasing team morale, as well as individual staff members. This kind of human resource system might track and manage daily tasks, feedback, training, and other employee data.

Staff leave planning

Companies both large and small need to know who's on holiday and who's at work. Paper rotas and spreadsheets have been a staple of annual leave tracking for a long time, but they quickly become a massive headache as your team grows. Timetastic is a software based staff leave planner that's easy for everyone to use: HR, management and employees. We made it dead simple to request and approve leave, and you can see everyone's calendar at a glance so you'll know who to expect at work each day.

The Timetastic annual leave planner.

What are the benefits of using an HR system?

You might be sitting there thinking there's nothing wrong with your current HR department, and if that's really true then perhaps an HR system isn't for you. But for most HR departments still using traditional solutions, modern HR systems can be a massive boost to their workflow.

By far the primary reason why many HR departments use bespoke systems is because of the amount of time that such a HR management system can save. Contemporary HR systems can partially or fully automate time-consuming, repetitive administrative tasks, freeing up time to spend on more important matters and tasks which require more strategy and thought.

HR systems also reduce the chance of human error, which is an unfortunate inevitability in any system which relies on human input. They also improve organisation and record-keeping, often meaning businesses are capable of storing more data which can easily be located and accessed in the future. HR systems streamline working practices and can offer continuous feedback and analysis on staff and company performance. This in itself can be invaluable to any business trying to improve performance and increase overall profits.

Automated HR systems are becoming the norm in medium and large businesses around the world, largely because of the benefits we've talked about above. If you're not quite ready to transition your entire HR department to automated systems, it can always be worth just dipping a toe in the water and automating part of your workload; you never know, it could be a game changer.