With so many different HR software solutions available, figuring out which is right for you is tough. You know you want to software is to streamline and optimize human resource management tasks, but need to figure out which tool is best. In this post, I'll help make your choice easier, sharing my personal recommendations on the best HR software list with tools that cover a variety of needs and niches.
What is HR Software?
HR software is a digital solution designed to manage and optimize various human resource functions within an organization. It encompasses a range of tasks including recruitment, employee onboarding, payroll processing, performance management, and benefits administration.
Table of Contents
Here are the main sections I’ll cover in this summary of the best HR software:
- The Best HR Software List
- How I Selected the Best HR Software
- Selection Criteria
- Everything You Need to Know About The Best HR Software
- Additional HR Software Lists
- The Best HR Software Deserves the Best Practices
How I Selected the Best HR Software
To construct this HR software list, I evaluated and compared various HR tools that covered a unique aspect of common HR or business needs. I further honed this list by using the selection criteria below to see how each platform worked for common use cases. I also drew upon my years of HR administration experience to recognize the features that add value and reduce time-consuming manual work.
Here's a short summary of the main selection criteria I used to develop this list of the best HR software:
A major benefit of HR software is the automation of mundane, repetitive, and time-consuming administrative HR tasks. For example, if your HR system includes an employee self-service portal, your staff can update their own details, and they will automatically populate to other parts of your system, like your payroll module.
Connecting natively with other software systems you're already using will improve your team's productivity and help you work more efficiently. Key integrations to look for include email providers, digital calendars, job boards, and work platforms. You'll also want to ensure that your software integrates with other niche tools that are not built into their system. For example, if the HR software you choose does not include payroll management, make sure payroll integrations are readily available.
Analytics and data visualization tools:
One of the biggest benefits of using an HR software platform is the ability to analyze and run reports on your data. You want an HR platform that makes it easy to collect and interpret data from across different modules. Plus, the ability to drill down into your data sub-groups such as departments, locations, or employee types. Having flexible data analysis tools will help you uncover useful insights about your workforce that you otherwise wouldn't identify.
The ease of use a tool delivers is crucial to onboarding and the overall success of implementing a new HR software solution. I reviewed aspects such as if a tool is user-friendly and easy to learn and master. I also confirmed that each company offers good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training.
When I was working as an HR administrator, I was constantly short on time and long on things to do. That's where templates can also add a lot of value. By starting off with a strong template for whatever HR action you need to take, you can get away with tweaking it for your specific needs, rather than having to reinvent the wheel for each task. Some examples of great templates include:
- Job postings
- Offer letters
- Welcome packages
- New hire onboarding workflows
- Employee handbooks
- Recurring training
Mobile app accessibility:
Allowing your staff and administrators to easily make updates on the go is important for several reasons. For employees, it will improve their employee experience and allow them to stay on top of their personal information updates easily. For administrators, it prevents work from building up if you're away from your desk. Instead, you can update something the moment it occurs to you, no matter where you are.
Something to look out for in any HR software solution is fair, transparent, and scalable pricing. I always strive to choose software with transparent pricing models (and most in this list do provide price details). I'm also a firm believer in test-driving any software before you jump into a contract, so I purposely tried to select software that includes free trials, or at the very least, a free demo, in this list.
If you're interested in comparing features across various platforms, our tailored HR software guide can serve as an invaluable resource.
What is HR software?
I know that many of the people reading this list live and breathe in the HR field and don’t need a definition. This section is for the many HR leaders that have joined the space through non-traditional circumstances such as cross-functional managers, startup founders, or anyone else who is scratching their heads over all the new terminology they’re learning.
HR software or human resources software is a technology solution that helps HR professionals streamline their processes and manage their workforce efficiently. This software can include a variety of features such as employee records management, recruitment and applicant tracking, time tracking, benefits administration, performance management, and payroll processing.
HR software is designed to improve the overall efficiency of HR operations and reduce the time and resources needed to manage a large workforce. By automating many of the administrative tasks associated with HR, HR software can help professionals focus on strategic initiatives and more effectively manage their employees.
What are the main benefits of using HR software?
The benefits of HR software are numerous. Firstly, HR software can help HR professionals save time and effort by automating many of the time-consuming administrative tasks such as data entry, document management, and maintaining employee records.
Additionally, HR software can provide greater accuracy in data management, reducing the likelihood of errors and omissions. This can help improve compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
HR software also provides easy access to employee information and data, which can help HR professionals make better-informed decisions about their workforce.
Finally, HR software can help HR professionals analyze workforce data and identify trends and patterns, which can help them develop more effective strategies for talent management, performance improvement, and employee engagement.
Are there different types of HR software?
Yes, the HR software space does cover a wide range of core and niche software offerings. While the HR management software space is very broad, the best HR software in this list falls into these main categories:
- HRIS = human resources information system
- HRMS = human resource management system
- HCM = human capital management [system]
Other popular subcategories include:
- Applicant tracking or recruiting software
- Compensation management software
- Employee engagement software
- Employee recognition software
- Learning management software
- Talent management software
- Workforce management software
What key features are included in HR software?
Here’s a summary of the main features you can expect to find in this list of the best HR software:
- Core HR data management features: A single source of employee data management that populates all software modules automatically.
- Payroll solutions: Integrated, tax-compliant payroll management software that removes the need for manual calculations.
- Time off, attendance and leave management: Tracking when your employees start and stop work, as well as their vacation and other leave requests.
- Benefits administration: A way to link your health benefit offerings to your core employee and payroll data to enable easier benefits management.
- Performance management: Tools to facilitate performance reviews and track employee performance and development over time.
- Talent management & employee engagement functions: Features to reward, engage, motivate and incentivize staff for top performance, including tools to measure eNPS, employee satisfaction, and employee sentiment trends.
- Recruiting & candidate sourcing tools: Digital HR tools to source and screen candidates, including features like an applicant tracking system (ATS) or a candidate relationship management (CRM) module that can streamline the recruitment process.
- Onboarding tools: Automated process tools that make it easy to transform hired candidates into new employees, including tools for employee verification and background checks.
- Training & learning management features: A process for tracking employee qualifications and certification expiry dates, and hosting in-house training presentations through a learning management system (LMS).
- Advanced workforce management features: These include features like HR compliance tracking, succession planning tools, and platforms that prioritize upward mobility and skill development initiatives.
- HR analytics & reporting tools: The ability to run meaningful reports on your system data, including report templates that populate data automatically, in real-time, as data flows into the system.
- Employee self-service: The ability for employees to update their own personal information and access other details independently without relying heavily on HR staff.
How can I select the best HR software for my organization? Do you have any tips?
Helping people find the best HR software for their needs is our specialty, so you’ve come to the right place! Follow this easy 5-step process to find the best HR software for you:
1: Identify Your HR Needs
Before you dive into the software selection process, assess your organization’s specific HR needs. Defining your HR department’s needs is vital to selecting the best HR software for your organization.
2: Research HR Software Vendors
Familiarize yourself with the leading HR software solutions for your use case (this list will save you valuable time in identifying the best vendors). Identify vendors based on your needs, your organization’s industry, and any other criteria specific to your buying journey.
3: Create a Shortlist
Now it’s time to narrow your selection down to a handful of the best human resource management software solutions.
4: Trial Your Shortlisted Vendors
Take advantage of any free trials or demos that are available. Play around with each tool to get a sense of its UI, UX, and capabilities. Take note of any limitations and try to include ideal users in the trial to ensure a strong test case.
5: Implement and Onboard
Make a strategy to implement the HR software including an onboarding schedule for your managers and employees. Get stakeholder input early to fulfill their needs from day one. Take advantage of support resources to ensure a smooth rollout for your team.
For more details on this 5-step process, pop over to our article How to Choose HR Software in 5 Easy Steps.
Additional HR Software Lists
Looking for a specific subset of HR software? I’ve got you covered there too. Here are some links to our most popular HR software subcategories, including key feature summaries and screenshots:
Core HR Software Systems:
- Best Cloud HR Software Systems for HR Teams
- Best Employee Management Systems
- Best Free HR Software for SMBs on a Budget
- Best HCM Software Vendors
- Best HRIS Systems
- Best HRIS for Small Businesses to Manage HR Processes
- Best HRMS for Human Resource Management
- Best HRMS for Small Businesses
- Best HR Software for Small Business
- Best HR Database Software for Record Keeping
- Best HR Management Software
- Best Workforce Management Software
- Best Workforce Planning Software
Specialty HR Software Systems:
- Best Applicant Tracking Systems for Small Businesses to Recruit Better
- Best Asset Management Software for Modern Teams
- Best Business Intelligence Software for Data Analytics
- Best Candidate Sourcing Software to Help You Find the Best Talent
- Best Diversity Recruiting Software for Inclusive Hiring
- Best Electronic Signature Software for Digital Sign-Off
- Best Employee Compensation Management Software
- Best Employee Engagement Software
- Best Employee Experience Tools to Improve Engagement & Performance
- Best Employee Recognition Platforms to Celebrate Top Talent
- Best HR Analytics Software for Actionable Workforce Data
- Best Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Employee Training
- Best Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Small Businesses
- Best Org Chart Tools for Plotting Company Structures
- Best Performance Management Tools Every HR Pro Should Know
- Best Productivity Tracking Software for Hybrid Teams
- Best Recruiting Marketing Software for Hiring Staff
- Best Remote Employee Monitoring Software
- Best Succession Planning Software to Develop Future Leaders
- Best Talent Management Systems for HR
The Best HR Software Deserves the Best Practices
With so many options to choose from, it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed. To help you along in your buyer’s journey, here are some resources on how to select and leverage HR software:
- How to Make a Business Case for HR Software
- How to Choose HR Software in 5 Easy Steps
- HR Software: What it Costs and How to Decide What’s Best for your Company
- Types of HR Software: Key Features and Benefits
For more information on the latest and best HR software and trends, be sure to subscribe to our People Managing People newsletter covering the latest trends in HR leadership too.