The 10 Most Important Features of an HRIS

An HRIS should include features like payroll processing, benefits management, recruiting/onboarding, time tracking, and performance management. Build your requirements on OutSail's HRIS Marketplace and see your matches

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
July 4, 2023
user comparing HRIS systems


HRIS systems are one of the most important pieces of technology in any company, but they don’t all work the same way.

Some systems offer a robust set of features that allow you to streamline your HR processes and improve employee experience, while others are limited by their functionality or their ability to integrate with other tools.

It's important to choose an HRIS that can meet all of your needs as well as fit into your overall technology strategy for the future.

At a minimum, an HRIS should have core features like payroll processing and benefits administration—but it also needs to include many other capabilities that will make it easier for employees at all levels in your organization.

Ad for OutSail's marketplace

1. Core HRIS

A Core HR Information System (HRIS) is an integrated software package that provides a single source of employee data, including payroll and benefits. It includes the following features:

  • Core HR capabilities are very simply the ability to have an employee system-of-record that stores all employee files in one place and allows employees to make adjustments to their employee profile
  • Additional functionality in a Core HRIS could include an org chart

2. Payroll Processing

In the payroll module, you will be able to process payroll for any number of employees. The system should support any type of compensation plan, including hourly, salaried, and part time work. The system should also include tax filing capabilities for federal and state forms as well as required reports on how much money an employee has earned each year.

3. Benefits Management

Benefits management is an important feature of an HRIS.

Benefits include things like 401k contributions, health insurance coverage (including dental and vision), life insurance, disability insurance and flexible spending accounts—all items that can be deducted from an employee’s paychecks.

Benefits management software will allow you to manage all these things without any manual work on your part

4. Recruiting / Onboarding

Recruiting and onboarding are two different things. Recruiting is the process of finding the right candidate for a job, while onboarding is the process of introducing the new employee to your company.

Recruiting involves attracting new candidates, managing the interview process and making hiring decisions.

Onboarding involves introducing an individual to their new position by providing them with information about their role, benefits and responsibilities within your organization.

Both recruiting and onboarding are vital components of your HRIS system as they help ensure that you have a workforce that can get things done efficiently and effectively.

Free Tool: Input your team's HRIS requirements and see precise cost estimates for every HRIS vendor

5. Time and Attendance Tracking

Time and attendance tracking is a critical HRIS feature. This feature allows you to see who is on the clock, how many hours they've worked, when they are scheduled to be at work, and other details related to the timekeeping process.

Time and attendance data can help reduce overtime costs by ensuring that employees aren't overworked. By knowing who worked when, you can ensure that no one is working too many hours in any given week or month.

Time and attendance information also makes calculating payroll easier; you'll have accurate information about when employees are expected to work so that you can pay them accordingly at the end of each pay period.

6. Performance Management

Another critical aspect of an HRIS is performance management. A good software solution can help you to administer annual performance reviews, as well as other ongoing activities such as goal setting and compensation.

This is important because it creates a structured framework for the organization to manage employee performance and conduct formal evaluations of employees. Performance management should be done annually with managers providing feedback on their team members’ skills, knowledge, competencies and behaviors.

An effective system will also allow you to track your employees' goals throughout the year so that they know what they need to achieve in order to be successful within your company's culture and mission statements (if any).

If you're looking for more than just a way to do annual reviews or provide goal setting tools in order to improve employee engagement—if perhaps you'd like something with more depth—a robust HRIS could also help facilitate succession planning strategies by offering insights into individual strengths and weaknesses within each department so that managers can develop plans regarding which positions need filling next time around.

7. Succession Planning

Succession planning is a critical part of any HRIS. It helps you identify the skills you need in your organization, and it helps you identify what training is needed for existing employees.

Succession planning can also help with recruitment efforts, as well as retention strategies. For example, if an employee was recently promoted to a position that requires some new skills, then succession planning might be able to identify who else on your team has those same skills and train them so they can take over when the current employee leaves or retires.

This can save time and money by not having to recruit externally or hire someone new internally who may not have any experience with your company's products/services.

8. Training and Development

Training and development is an important part of an HRIS.

The right system can help promote growth in your employees’ skills, careers and knowledge by providing them with the tools they need to succeed at their jobs.

In addition to helping you teach new employees how to use a system or perform their duties, it can also be used to ensure all mandated trainings are completed so that your organization remains compliant with state regulations or industry standards.

9. Reporting / Analytics

Reporting and analytics are two key areas that an HRIS should support.

The reporting functionality should allow you to track the progress of your employees, while analytics will give you access to critical business data such as headcount, hiring plans, turnover rate and other aspects of the organization's workforce performance.

Reporting functionality should also help generate any mandated compliance reports such as EEO-1 (which reports on diversity in the workplace) or ACA (which deals with healthcare coverage).

10. Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a key component of the employee experience. It can help improve employee retention and productivity, in addition to contributing to organizational performance.

Employee engagement can be measured through surveys, or through more informal means like social media activity. To improve employee engagement, you should create a positive work environment where employees feel valued by management and their work is meaningful.

2024 HRIS 
Landscape Report
Read OutSail's 2024 HRIS Report with write-ups on 30+ leading vendors
Thank you! You can download your report at this link
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Unsure about your software needs?
Use our HRIS Requirements Builder to quickly identify your must-have & nice-to-haves
Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
Accelerate your HRIS selection process with free support
Thank you! Our team will reach out to you shortly
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Meet the Author

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
Brett Ungashick, the friendly face behind OutSail, started his career at LinkedIn, selling HR software. This experience sparked an idea, leading him to create OutSail in 2018. Based in Denver, OutSail simplifies the HR software selection process, and Brett's hands-on approach has already helped over 1,000 companies, including SalesLoft, Hudl and DoorDash. He's a go-to guy for all things HR Tech, supporting companies in every industry and across 20+ countries. When he's not demystifying HR tech, you'll find Brett enjoying a round of golf or skiing down Colorado's slopes, always happy to chat about work or play.


Everything you need to know about OutSail
What is OutSail?
OutSail is the first-ever broker of HR Software. We offer market insights, evaluation tools & advisory services to help organizations research, evaluate and select the right HR software. And best of all - OutSail is free!
How is OutSail free?
OutSail is free due to our one-of-a-kind software broker model. When a company makes a purchase through OutSail, the winning vendor owes us a small fee for making the introduction.

No Hidden Fees - You don't pay for our services and the vendors don't pass our costs along either
Vendor Agnostic - OutSail partners with 220+ HR Tech vendors including every market leader
What are the benefits of OutSail?
1.) Market Insights: Access the industry's most trusted data. Read user reviews of every leading HRIS vendor. Access verified pricing data. Use proprietary tools to sort & filter by your selection criteria.
2.) Evaluation Tools: Access to project plans & timelines. Customize your own scorecard tools. Leverage expert-generated demo questions. Collaborate with your team
3.) Advisory Services: Work with HRIS industry experts. Assistance during proposal review and guidance for negotiations. Implementation readiness
What if I'm a broker, consultant or vendor?
We love partnering with brokers & consultants and bringing innovative vendors to our customers. Follow those links to learn more about how we can partner together and bring OutSail's benefits to your customers.

The Future of Software Buying

See why modern buyers prefer OutSail's broker model when buying their next HRIS