Exploring HR Information Design: A Comprehensive Guide

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The modern-day business needs modern-day HR solutions, and those solutions need to be able to zero in on the specific needs of individual employees in all departments. This is important, and to ensure optimal growth, collaboration, and impactful results that make life better for everyone, you need the right tools for the job.

This is where not only the services of HR professionals come in, but also the software they use. A human resources information system is one such example, otherwise referred to as an HRIS. Let’s dive deep into the fundamentals of this solution together!

To get started, let’s go over the basics of what an HR information system is, followed by how it helps to inform HR information design.

What is an HRIS?

A human resources information system, as the term implies, is a means of collecting and organizing critical information pertaining to the employees of a business at all levels. This can include feedback, background check findings, and specifics about their role and department.

An HRIS also serves as a dedicated means of monitoring everything from recruitment and training to onboarding, operational regulatory compliance, and employee performance analysis. It’s essentially a comprehensive suite of tools that make it easier for outsourced HR firms (where there is no bias) to help businesses make well-informed, effective decisions on what needs to change and what doesn’t.

How Does an HRIS Benefit Overall HR Information and Organizational Design?

Data is the new oil, and it flows freely within your company. That being said, above all else, your business must put the needs and perspectives of employees first to maintain a team-oriented operation conducive to growth. A dedicated HRIS can help to shape not only your HR information design but your entire organizational design as well. 

Below are several examples of the benefits such a solution can bring to the table (these will vary depending on what aspects of the system are utilized and how):

  • The ability to come to more actionable conclusions that are equitable and fair for everyone, driving impactful decision-making and positive innovation.
  • Improved operational efficiency, risk awareness, and performance monitoring.
  • Maintain full compliance at all times, even as your organizational design takes on a wholly new form. This helps ensure you receive funding or even outright approval to operate in your industry while protecting employees.
  • Improved morale, motivation, and collaboration along with a more positive and supportive atmosphere. The data speaks for itself!
  • Streamlined, no-nonsense record keeping makes life easier for those in administrative and managerial roles while ensuring no critical issues get lost in the flow.
  • An HRIS solution is optimal for companies expecting to grow in the future, as it is highly scalable and adaptive to change.

What Can an HR Information System Do?

There are several capabilities offered by modern HR information systems and subsequent designs. These include the following and more:

  • Dedicated automation of payroll for all employees, even those not in permanent full-time roles. Nobody gets left out, and an HRIS can work with available attendance data to ensure accurate paycheques with nothing left out or overpaid.
  • Recruitment management assistance, covering everything from monitoring application details, cover letters, and resumes to matching the right specialists to the right roles. This can help prevent the accidental creation of a Jack-of-all-trades role as well as hiring riskier candidates, helping your specialists shine within their field by finding the ideal individual for each position!
  • Management of employee benefits, making it easier for them and employers to keep tabs on plans, policy options, and determine what is covered and what isn’t. 
  • Dedicated reporting and analytics on everything from employee retention and satisfaction surveys to per-individual performance, training plans, and more. Of course, the dedicated services of an experienced HR advisor will be even more beneficial in this regard.

How to Implement an HR Information System

Now, let’s go over several important steps associated with implementing an HR information system. These include the following:

How’s Your Organizational Design Looking?

Have you noticed gaps that indicate a need for changes? If so, that’s a good thing. Recognizing these issues in advance can help you decide which HRIS elements require the most urgent attention and/or implementation. Of course, on the flip side, an HRIS can help to inform your organizational design and enact meaningful, worthwhile changes that tackle key issues.

Lend an Ear

Take the time to interface with other managers and, more importantly, those on the “front lines” – your staff at even the lowest-level positions! Planning the right HR solution can be a wonderful collaborative experience. In addition, this is the perfect opportunity to gather feedback on everything from the hiring experience to training needs, performance-related concerns, and possible roadblocks to success. 

HR Consulting

Of course, the best possible thing you can do for your business’s future is to ensure it isn’t shaped inherently by an internal bias. It’s easy to look at your OKRs and long-term goals and attempt to build a system and roadmap that caters to them, but this could do considerably more harm than good – especially regarding long-time employee retention. Therefore, reach out to a dedicated and highly experienced HR consulting firm. Some work only with smaller and medium-sized businesses, so take the time to peruse their website and services. If you can find a firm that offers dedicated organizational design services in addition to HR advisory, talent management and recruiting, and leadership consulting – among other options – then you’ll know that you’re on the right track.

Outline and Strategize

Implementing the right human resources information design takes time. It also takes practice, mutual understanding, and commitment, much like the relationship with any employee or even a loved one. Therefore, embrace the concepting stage and experiment. Now’s the time to do so, especially if you’re working with an HR consulting firm that can help gently guide your company’s planning toward an optimal implementation.

Testing and Implementation

With a finely, attentively planned HR strategy in place for collecting, organizing, reporting, and analysis of crucial data, test the waters to see how it works. Does it introduce process or task bloat that overwhelms specific team members? Or does it feel as if it’s not quite cutting it in terms of addressing specific needs? Don’t be afraid to retool and tweak as needed; know that you don’t have to make these choices blindly alone. 

Dedicated Training

Next, when it comes to full implementation or “launch,” you should ensure that you communicate clearly, concisely, and effectively how everything works. No employee should be left out of the loop, and the system implemented needs to be extremely user-friendly without the sensation of micromanagement. Some ways to train employees and management on the HRIS include newsletter send-outs, holding a general meeting to walk them through how it works, or even one-on-one coaching sessions. Again, an HR firm can assist in this regard in spades, lending their insights while ensuring everyone is set up for success within the system and the company itself. 

Critical Elements of an HR Information System

Of course, what specific core fundamentals help drive your team’s success when an HRIS is in place? As it happens, such a system is a multi-faceted collective of processes and subtasks. Some of these include the following:

Assessments and Concepting

Not all HRIS systems are made equal. Some incorporate strategic elements and features that may be more useful to your business than others. In order to determine what the right approach is for your team’s specific needs, you should roll up your sleeves and dig deep into how your business operates from the ground up. This is the critical phase of concepting, where assessments are made of internal processes and practices. For instance, what are your long-term strategic plans? Will the HRIS solution be able to flex and accommodate rapid growth? To reiterate our discussion on planning earlier in this article, do you know which departments are in need of assistance with specific processes?

The more data you have to leverage, the more effective a concept you can “sketch” out, so to speak. There should be an initial assessment internally, performed by departmental leads in conjunction with senior leadership, but that’s not where the concepting phase ends. Having an external dedicated HR firm like ours perform an audit and assessment, followed by your receiving insights and recommendations on how best to proceed, will help ensure that you have the most appropriate and well-rounded system possible for your operations. 

Dedicated Reporting and Data Analysis

It might sound like a bunch of busywork and number-crunching, but modern businesses don’t get anywhere without using real-time, relevant, and accurate information as a foundation on which to build and expand. Otherwise, you wind up mistargeting and not focusing resources, manpower, or time on the process refinements that require the most urgent attention. 

Here’s where the dedicated data reporting and analytics part of HRIS can save the day and help shape tomorrow. Even if a generated report is lengthy, should it be organized cleanly and reader-friendly in terms of how the data is presented, then it can tell you a powerful lot about how your business operates. An HR firm will be more than happy to consult this information as well, as it enables these experienced professionals to make highly actionable recommendations and provide useful, knowledgeable guidance.

Preventative Planning Measures

What kind of budget can your organization afford when implementing a human resources information system? Will you need to break up the project across multiple quarters, piecemeal to avoid overspend? If so, it’s important that you plan accordingly, implementing elements that tackle the most urgent needs of your employees. 

Preventative planning in a manner such as this is what helps to keep retention under control, possibly even improving it before an HRIS solution is fully implemented. Not only that, but HRIS incorporates various methods of risk assessment to help your organizational design remain agile, effective, and beneficial for everyone within the company. Preventative planning also extends to training, which we’ve already discussed, by helping to bring your team members up to speed and gently settle them into newly refined operational standards.

Taking the “Full-Circle” Approach

While we all wish our best-performing employees would stick around forever, life happens. New opportunities arise. Events outside of work could affect the needs of employees beyond your ability to address them. And then, of course, some folks simply yearn for a new adventure, even when you’ve had a great working relationship together (therefore not burning bridges). 

The goal of HRIS isn’t to chain your employees to their desks and guilt trip them into staying. There’s also a misconception that HR is there for the company first. Well, the immediately noticeable flaw in that mindset is that your company wouldn’t be where it is today without those hard-working individuals. This is why the proper approach to HRIS integration is to leave nobody behind at any stage of their employment journey. From their initial application to the role to training, onboarding, years of experience and growth and, one day, their offboarding and departure, every stage of their journey as an individual deserves proper support.

We sometimes call this the “full-circle” approach. Others refer to it as an employee’s lifecycle, which also makes perfect sense. Regardless, the way information for HR purposes is accumulated, kept secure, organized, reported on, consulted and analyzed, and especially acted on can significantly impact how your team is supported. This helps avoid complications such as miscommunications, requests slipping through the cracks, tension and/or pent-up pressure, biases,  unrealistic expectations, and otherwise.

Tips on Training

While we’ve referred to training already in earlier sections, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will satisfy every employee’s needs in addition to the highest levels of leadership. No two departments – no two roles tend to work the same way, which is by design. Your organizational design, to be specific. 

With that in mind, it only makes sense to consider a variety of training approaches for your team. This is ideal for ensuring a personal touch that custom-tailors personal development plans to the strengths, responsibilities, and operational goals of each team member. 

Below are  some examples of how to go about doing this:

Anonymous Feedback Systems

Your HRIS is always thirsty, yearning for that next drop of data to help drive your business forward. Of course, sourcing said data isn’t always easy. Some employees may have had difficult experiences in the past (either within your company’s walls or elsewhere) that compel them to hold back on using their voices. At other times, your operations may have too many managers or other coordinator-level roles, making it difficult to determine who should receive said feedback or suggestions. 

Implementing an anonymous feedback system – and we really mean anonymous, so no shady tracking whatsoever – can help to inform your training plans. Even if you can’t tell which specific individuals submitted the feedback, you should be able to at least glean from the suggestions what department or role they are affiliated with. Listening to these voices will tell you what your company needs at every level, and if multiple individuals are providing the same sort of feedback, then you can be confident that an issue is present that affects multiple employees. 

Town Halls

Apple’s town hall events are iconic, and other companies have rolled out similar strategies. This is a forum-style gathering where employees are assured of their job safety, support, and being heard by higher-ups on pressing issues when speaking up. It’s also a wonderful way to incubate ideation together. Again, getting the folks on the ground involved can help you shape training regimens and even process refinements as a team – it’s a lot less lonely at the top this way!

Reviews and Audits

The time during which an employee is reviewed for their performance or audited is a stressful one for them. They haven’t left of their own accord and therefore desire to remain with the employer. Therefore, it’s in everyone’s best interests to encourage them to share suggestions, recommendations, and even advice. Who knows? They may have thought of a ground-breaking new software tool that could benefit their department, which could then be integrated into future training plans!


We’ve veered in a few different directions in this guide when it comes to a human resource information system, and that’s on purpose. Why? Because to be human is to be composed of many critical elements. We’re complex beings with needs that change daily, and as a result, a business composed of multiple individuals needs an HR solution that is equally organic, adaptive to change, and puts people first. Enabling and harnessing information in such a way can be a serious win for an organization’s design, operations, retention, employee satisfaction, performance, and long-term prospects! To learn more about our HR services,  reach out to  True North HR Consulting today. We’re happy to help set your team up for success.