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Everything You Need to Know Before Investing in Core HR Software

Team Kissflow

Updated on 23 Apr 2024 5 min read

One of the most important facets of business management is effective human resource management. Human resource work encompasses many activities from recruiting to onboarding to handling complaints, but at the very center of your HR department is a collection of data and functions known as core HR. Without that, many other HR tasks would be impossible, and your business couldn’t operate.

What is core HR?

‘Core HR’ is a broad term that includes the basic functions carried out by the HR department and sensitive data about employees that is required to carry out those functions. ‘Core HR’ also refers to the software used to organize that data and facilitate those functions. Implementing strong core HR software is vital to the growth of any organization.

Why implementing core HR software is important

By implementing strong core HR software, you ensure a safe, centralized place to store essential (and private) employee data, organize that data, automate repeating HR tasks, and generate reports as needed. It facilitates core HR functions like recruiting, onboarding, training, scheduling, and compliance. It makes filing taxes, managing employee benefits, tracking absences, and updating payroll easier and more accurate.

As a back-end solution, much of what core HR software does may go unnoticed– until something goes wrong. Instead of waiting for errors to crop up, it’s best to take a proactive approach by implementing a good core HR software. This will save the company time and money, increase employee satisfaction and retention, and allow the HR team to turn their attention to value-added strategic tasks instead of manually managing certain processes.

What features make up good core HR software?

1. Database

Core HR software must serve as a robust, secure database for employee and contractor information. It holds personal information, job details, employment history, benefits information, and documentation of pay rate and raises.

2. Payroll management

Your core HR should not only store relevant payroll information, but should integrate with your banking system to make direct deposits. It calculates and automatically applies withholdings for taxes, 401(k) contributions, and healthcare premiums.

3. Scheduling

Scheduling is about more than just who works when, though core HR software needs to do that as well. It’s also about absence tracking and payment of sick leave benefits, vacation approvals and leave carry-overs from year to year.

3. Employee self-service portal

It’s both simpler and more accurate for employees to submit their time-off requests digitally and to be responsible for updating personal information when needed. With an employee self-service feature, your core HR software helps create a positive employee experience and also relieves the HR team of tedious tasks.

4. Integrations

It’s extremely helpful if your core HR software integrates with, let’s say, your recruiting solution. Instead of newly hired employees being forced to re-enter information they just gave your company in the application process, the data is pulled from the application into the employee file. Strong core HR software will provide this and many other helpful integrations.

5. Reports

Your whole organization will benefit from accurate reports from the HR department. Core HR software should provide the capability of generating standard reports on absences and turn over as well as any custom reports that would be beneficial to your company. With custom reporting features, your HR department can provide valuable insight into your operations.

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Core vs. strategic vs. supporting HR processes

If you‘re just diving into the world of HR management, you may be confused by the distinctions among core, strategic, and supporting HR processes. There’s not complete agreement on which functions fall into each category, but we’ll try to simplify it a bit. At Kissflow, we break it down this way:

1. Core HR

Core HR is made up of the essential functions that are crucial for all organizations of all sizes from small businesses to enterprise-level organizations. These functions are best performed by members of your organization. 

Core HR includes HR marketing, hiring, onboarding, and offboarding; time and attendance tracking and paid time off management; basic performance management in the form of annual reviews; self-service portals, HR workflows, and basic reports; payroll and benefits management; and of course an employee database. Core HR is all the human resources activity without which your business couldn’t operate well.

2. Strategic HR

Think of strategic HR as the big picture of human resources, the long-term vision. Strategic HR management takes into consideration the vision and goals of the organization as a whole and then suggests personnel plans to help the business achieve those goals. This involves things like identifying positions that need to be created and writing descriptions for those jobs. 

It also includes helping to shape appealing company culture and designing employee development opportunities. Succession planning, workforce planning, and workforce scheduling are all examples of strategic HR planning activities.

3. Supporting HR Processes

Supporting HR processes are all the ongoing pieces of HR that are important but might be considered secondary to the core and strategic functions. Support functions include administration of benefits, compensation, and employee remuneration; communication with employees on HR matters, maintaining HR IT systems, and general or generic training. 

Some people place employee reward and retention programs in the category of strategic HR since it’s so important to long term success. We’re putting it under support HR because it’s an ongoing part of HR management. However, you classify it, be sure not to neglect it! 

Big picture activities that require a combination of technology and soft skills, like the guidance of company culture, change management, and handling of challenges such as employee complaints or compliance violations, can also be categorized as support HR.

Three core HR functions your HR department must have

If you’re building your HR department from scratch or thinking about how to focus on the essentials, here are three core HR functions your HR department absolutely must have.

1. Employee data management

Your HR department can’t do its job without employee information available in a usable database.

2. Payroll management

It may be cynical to say “money makes the world go ‘round,” but your business certainly can’t function for long without an effective payroll system. When it comes to core HR, payroll is an obvious essential.

3. Hiring process

If you aren’t prepared to hire, you’re not prepared to grow. A smooth hiring process is key to a functioning HR department.

Top core HR software on the market today

1. BambooHR

BambooHR is a highly-rated core HR platform with an intuitive interface and customizable dashboards and reports. With an employee self-service portal, employee self-onboarding, and automated time-off management, BambooHR gives employees a great deal of autonomy and relieves the HR team of many tedious tasks.

2. Gusto

Gusto is a favorite of small companies just getting started with a payroll system. Its easy-to-navigate interface and completely automated payroll and tax systems save time for business owners or managers with wide-ranging responsibilities. Gusto also has employee self-onboarding online.

3. Kissflow HR Cloud

Kissflow HR Cloud was created to manage all of HR in one place. It combines agile core HR functionality with actionable insights and a seamless multi-channel interface. Users can post jobs to multiple job boards with one click and manage recruitment processes from a customized dashboard, while new hires get an individualized onboarding experience and self-service employee portal.

4. SAP SuccessFactors

SuccessFactors is small to medium sized business offering from enterprise software company SAP. Most appreciated for its employee performance and rewards system, SuccessFactors also has a helpful setup “wizard” that makes it easy to get started. 

5. Workday

Workday HCM is a popular and highly-rated HR solution for medium to enterprise-sized businesses. It’s cloud-based, which works well for organizations operating in multiple locations and also facilitates Workday’s focus on mobile experiences for employees and managers.

Strengthen your core HR with Kissflow HR Cloud

There’s a lot to manage when it comes to operating a human resources team. Kissflow HR Cloud is the only HR solution that conforms to the needs of you and your organization, letting you manage the whole HR cycle, “from hire to retire,” all in one user-friendly digital space. To see how you can strengthen your core HR, sign up today for a free trial of Kissflow HR Cloud.

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