How to select the right HR software for your SME:- You are a small business, it doesn’t mean you need to struggle with spreadsheets and paper forms. In fact, when it comes to managing your employee information, there are several HR software solutions designed especially for SMEs. Picking the right one can help you streamline your processes, and grow your business faster.
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How to select the right HR software
But with so many HR software providers all fighting tooth and nail to get your attention, how do you work out which one to choose? Here are five of the most basic features to look out for as a small business.
- Employee database
You won’t get far without a good employee database. This is where you’ll store your most of your employee details, and a lot of your key HR information.
You don’t need a particularly fancy employee database. But you at least want it to let you do a few important things:
- Store personal information. It should be fairly straightforward to add and store basic information about each employee, such as name, contact details and date of birth.
- Track job history. If you want to encourage employees to build their career with your company, then you can expect them to be around for a long time. During this time, their employment details will probably change as they achieve things like pay rises and new responsibilities. Having a way to track their job history really helps you to see how far each employee has come, and helps you easily find old information during things like audits.
- Upload documents. Your employees will normally have a lot of documents associated with their employee record. For example, contracts of employment and right to work information. It’s really helpful to store this in the same place as the rest of their information. In an old-fashioned filing cabinet system, you would put documents in the same folder as personal information. This should work the same with a digital HR system – you should be able to upload and attach documents to your employees’ records.
There are a few other features to look out for, too. For example, the ability to design custom information screens for storing company-specific information. Or the ability for employees to e-sign the documents associated with their records. For speed and efficiency, you’ll probably also want search functionality, to help you pull up the right employee records without sifting through lists.
- Company document storage
We already mentioned that you’ll want to be able to upload documents like employment contracts against specific employee records. But what about general company documents that aren’t associated with any specific employees?
The best HR systems will let you not just upload and store company documents, but create them too! It’s a bonus if the software lets you build your own templates complete with mail merge tags – this means you could design a generic letter (such as a final written warning), and populate it with an employee’s details by simply clicking on their name.
- Team holiday planner
You’ll want the ability to accept holiday requests from your employees, and to approve or reject these requests. If you employ more than a few people, it helps if you can give your team managers access to manage their own team’s holiday requests – otherwise it can be a lot of responsibility for your HR systems manager.
Your team holiday planner should assign any authorized holiday requests against the employee’s annual allowance, to save you on manual calculations. It also helps massively if it shows you breakdowns of who is off and when – this can help you avoid the pain of accidentally approving too many holidays on the same day!
- Absence and attendance tracking
Beyond the more functional sides of HR like requesting and approving holidays, and maintaining employee records, you’ll want a way of tracking absence and attendance. Look for an HR system with a team calendar that shows you who is meant to be working and when, and that lets you register absences. It helps if you can classify the type of absence.
If you want to make real strategic impact within your organisation, you might want to go even further with what you look for in your HR software. For example, People HR offers advanced assistance with absence and attendance tracking:
- Bradford factor scoring to let you know which employees are causing the biggest problems
- Alerts and warnings when employees exceed concerning thresholds
- Other leave to make sure trips to the dentist don’t accidentally get recorded as general sickness absence
Done right, your HR software will help you to improve attendance and tackle absence.
- Employee self-service
This is not an essential feature, but it is certainly an important one – for lots of reasons.
Employee self-service is the name of a feature that lets you give your employees and managers their own accounts within your chosen HR system. They can log in, interact with the software, and perform certain actions. This is helpful for two big reasons:
- It empowers and engages your employees. When your workforce is engaging with your company’s central system, it encourages brand engagement. It also empowers employees to quickly find out answers to things like “how many holidays have I got left?” – and gives managers the power to easily approve holidays, authorize time sheets and more, for members of their own team.
- Takes the pressure from your system administrator. Having too much work going through one single person creates an organisational bottleneck. By looking for an HR system that allows employees and managers to take responsibility for their own details and teams, you are taking the pressure away from your HR system administrator.
Self-service is also helpful for ensuring vital details – like telephone numbers or banking information – are correct. These details can easily be overlooked by your administrator, but are not so easily overlooked by the employee who owns those details.