Folder-based HR systems are outdated, cumbersome and use a lot of unnecessary paper. For those running a small business, it’s easy to overlook the need for a coordinated and technology driven HR system.

More than likely the handful of employees you oversee are sitting in the same room, so there feels the little need when you can communicate across a table. But if your business is set to grow in the way you want it to, once easy-to-manage HR issues can quickly spiral out of control.

Basic HR software solutions cover a handful of basic HR processes, including maintaining an employee database, archiving personnel records, and producing directories and organisational charts. It’s a system recording all things people-related and many HR software packages allow you to add on extra features as you grow.

We’ve put together some great reasons you should ditch your paper-based HR system. Here are the top 5 day-to-day pros of HR software.

1. Streamlining HR processes

Disjointed and fragmented HR processes make simple tasks much more difficult than they need to be. HR software allows you to streamline a whole host of employee related tasks. Here are some of the benefits.

A central place for information

With HR software in place, everything is stored centrally. When businesses are stretched over several sites it’s common for paper-based HR processes to end up being kept in different places. Staff information, sick leave and holiday records, overtime logging, and expenses are just a few of the many HR procedures that can be centralised with HR software.

Information is coordinated

Some companies use Excel sheets for many HR management tasks, along with shared calendars in Outlook. But this means employee information is fragmented. It takes longer to gather information and it’s easier for mistakes to happen. With coordinated information, it’s much easier to access, and management has more time to review reports, rather than spending time creating them.

Easier management of sick leave and staff holidays

Disjointed HR processes make simple tasks like coordinating and managing staff leave much more difficult. Paper-based holiday approval systems can be long-winded and complicated. This especially an issue for companies with several sites, where a paper-based holiday approval system has to go through several stages before final approval, and changes to a holiday request often means bumping it back to the beginning of the process. That’s definitely not good time management.

HR software allows for a seamless holiday approval process. There’s no crossover of requests that clash because approved holiday information is live in an instant.

With centralised HR software, it’s much easier to plan holiday in line with business needs, especially when there are large numbers of employees across several sites. Online solutions may even come with a mobile app for reporting sickness and booking holiday.

New employees

Managing new starters is made much easier with an HR software package. Being able to upload an offer letter and contract, give access to a staff handbook, and any health and safety documents that need to be read is a much more efficient way of handling the administration of a new employee.

Most HR systems will ask for read documents to be ticked off so you can effectively monitor communication. The new employee can log in, sign contracts, set up contact details, next of kin, bank details for pay etc. It probably saves a good hour of time per new employee in terms of HR management, and of course, it saves on paper.

From an employee perspective, HR software enables new staff to get to know colleagues quickly, by viewing profiles. With everyone’s faces in the directory, it makes it easy to get to know who is who. It also makes it easier for employees to understand the organisation’s structure.

2. Improves performance management

Many HR systems include employee performance and recognition features. When employee recognition and performance management are a fully utilised feature of HR software, it becomes a natural part of company culture. Self-assessment, as well as more open communication between management and staff, helps to create an environment where everyone wants to do their best.

3. Empowers staff

A self-serve HR system is surprisingly empowering for staff. Passing responsibility to employees is a tricky one. Done with care, giving more responsibility to employees is an incredibly enriching experience for both the business and the employee. Done badly and extra responsibility can lead to resentment and stress.

Giving staff responsibility for managing leave, managing training needs and engaging in personal performance provides a strategic framework for employee empowerment.

Choosing HR software that is easy to use will mean no special skills are required, and it will be easy for staff to learn. It has the added bonus of allowing employees to easily update personal information, such as a change of address, or change of bank details.

4. Improves communication and transparency

An HR system that is used and accessed by all employees greatly improves communication channels within any business. In terms of company announcements, staff won’t have to miss important information because a manager forgot to pass on a message, or they were on holiday. An effective HR software solution provides clarity, transparency and creates a level playing field for managers.

5. It’s cost-effective

HR software solutions are actually surprisingly cost effective. Unless you’re spending lots of money on a bespoke software solution (which is quite frankly in most cases unnecessary), the money saved on time and paper alone makes HR software a viable and reasonable business cost.

Pricing obviously matters, especially to lean start-ups and SMEs feeling the squeeze whilst growing. However, there are some great HR software packages on the market, and online versions mean there’s no complicated set-up process, no need for any input from expensive IT experts, nothing to download, and no downtime for updates. Breathe HR software offers an affordable, simple solution with a pay-as-you-grow pricing structure.

Be wary of expensive solutions with added bells and whistles. Simple, easy-to-use software with a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate is more likely to be fully utilised than one that is too complex and doesn’t suit the needs of your business.

Do some research when seeking HR software; some have restrictions on what can and can’t be done, and can only be used in certain browsers. Ultimately, you want a cost-effective solution that doesn’t include a lot of unnecessary features.

Improved employee communication, more effective management of staff leave, and greater opportunity for employee recognition are just some of the benefits bestowed by HR software. Increased productivity is a concomitant benefit. It is difficult to allocate an exact cost saving on using HR software because the benefits are far-reaching and that isn’t easy to quantify. In most cases though, the benefits of HR software will most certainly justify the cost.

We live in a digital age, so it makes good business sense to invest in HR software to support technology-driven business solutions. It’s generally agreed that HR software systems lead to easier and better employee administration. Paperless business solutions are good for the rainforest too!