An HRIS can be the HR checklist for your company

Checklists are Good for Business

The New England Journal of Medicine published a remarkable study in 2009. The study showed conclusively that the use of “checklists” during surgical procedures significantly lowered the patient mortality rate and reduced the incidence of post-surgery infections and complications. The checklist is a powerful tool even for those as highly intelligent and rigorously trained as operating room surgeons.

Businesses use checklists all the time for mundane tasks but, with the above facts in mind, isn’t it probable that a checklist could aid your company in performing not only its routine but, it’s more difficult HR functions? The answer is a resounding yes, but the problem of implementation still remains. Passing out a checklist on how to terminate an employee will simply not pass muster. Another solution must be found.

Management by the Book

No one has ever claimed that HR management was rocket science. Indeed, the problems faced by contemporary managers and HR administrators are probably the same ones faced by the Egyptians building the pyramids. The solutions may have been different in the old days but modern organizations have developed fairly consistent and effective ways to deal with HR policies. So, the problems are detailed in the management handbook and the procedural solutions are presented. A manager must merely follow the guide and all will be well.

A Reality Check

Unfortunately, reality isn’t so ideal. HR policy may be “cut and dried,” but every company still struggles with it. Why? In an ideal world, HR policy is easy to administer because you are sitting in a nice, quiet office with little else going on. Your full attention is devoted to the task at hand and there will be no interruptions until the task is completed.

Now, switch to the reality of a retail store manager or the manager of a high volume, distribution center. Multi-tasking is always required and a simple HR task such as counseling an employee is complicated by home office requests, customer complaints and other, seemingly more pressing emergencies. In this situation, it is easy for even a competent and well-intentioned manager to overlook or neglect an important step in an HR process.

The Ramifications

While the manager may be distracted by the controlled turmoil going on around them, you can be certain that the affected employee is making careful mental notes of the entire proceeding. Their goal is to justify their position and any misstep by the manager, willful of not, will be used in a complaint to the HR department or to the appropriate governmental agency. To protect the company, it is imperative that the manager conduct the HR process in complete compliance with company policy. Anything less leaves the company exposed to higher unemployment insurance premiums and legal claims.

The HRIS Solution

Even in companies with significant resources, the interaction between HR support staff and the field can be sporadic and hard to coordinate. Smaller companies often rely on quarterly meetings or emails to disseminate information about HR “best practices” and policies. Both of these situations are sadly inadequate in supporting a location manager when it comes to human resource management. Neither provides a framework nor timely advice.

A well-designed HRIS, on the other hand, can actually lead a manager through any HR process. An HRIS can archive and provide all the relevant portions of the company handbook, all necessary documents and procedural guides that outline the best way to handle a situation. In addition, it can also act as a gate keeper to ensure that each of the company-delineated steps are followed in the right order.

In short, an HRIS can be the HR checklist for your company. It can help ensure that all of the appropriate steps are taken, all the paperwork is completed and company policy is followed. If an item is missed or intentionally disregarded, the software can stall the process and alert upper management to the fact. It is, in fact, a proactive tool that avoids many of the unnecessary problems associated with poor HR management.

Put it on Your Checklist

Investigating the possibilities of an HRIS for your company is simply the prudent thing to do. They can be far more than a simple document archive and procedural gatekeeper. Every major corporation has one in some form or another as a complement to their HR staff. For a mid-sized company, they are an excellent alternative to employing and maintaining an underutilized HR department. For the small business owner, they can mean the difference between effectively handling HR issues and constantly being distracted by them.

About the Author

Carolyn Sokol writes about issues that may affect small businesses such as human resources, HRMS and HR payroll systems. She is a founder of and contributor to which both help match businesses to the right HR or Payroll Service provider for their particular needs.