HR Software Highlights from SHRM16

SHRM2016I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to attend SHRM 2016 in Washington, D.C. last week. As the largest HR conference in the world, SHRM 2016 hosted thousands of participants and more than 600 exhibitors showcasing products across numerous categories including HRIS, testing, compensation and benefits, health and safety, HR consulting, and many more.

Descending the escalator onto the exhibition floor at my first SHRM conference, I felt like a worker bee entering a busy hive of HR awesomeness. In addition to networking and learning about the many different products on the market, the conference made it possible to meet several of our vendors face to face and learn more about the unique features of their software.

Here are some of the top software trends I gleaned from the Exposition Hall:

1. Performance Management

I spoke with Daniel Dean from BambooHR, a software solution designed for small to medium businesses, about what he sees as the primary challenge companies experience with performance management software. He told me that one of the keys to better performance management is optimizing the components to be more engaging and less subjective.

For example, rather than asking an employee to rate their satisfaction with their job, a survey question might ask how likely they are to remain in their current position. Shorter surveys conducted more frequently tend to yield better responses than lengthy surveys conducted at widely spaced intervals.

Takeaway: Performance management and employee engagement must work hand-in-hand.

2. Cloud Vs. Hosted Vs. On-Premise

Cloud HRIS is the wave of the future, and many vendors don’t offer on-premise options anymore. However, there are still industries and businesses that want an on-premise solution or a less public hosting option than cloud provides. Special thanks to Jeanne Eberly and Jeff  Brady from PDS who spoke with me about the various options and outlined circumstances in which each might be beneficial.

Takeaway: Cloud is awesome, but it’s not right for everyone.

3. ACA Compliance

 When you shop for HR software, make sure it has ACA compliance tools built into the functionality. Most solutions do, but some deliver better results than others. Some offer compliance and reporting as part of the package, while others may charge an additional fee. Software should monitor the size of your organization based on number of full-time employees (FTEs) and calculate the number of FTEs. It should also be able to meet new reporting requirements, capture benefit and eligibility information, generate 1095 forms, and transmit data at year-end.

At Criterion’s booth, Steve Kuhn walked me through the capabilities of their software and demonstrated how these functionalities integrate across modules for a seamless user experience.

Takeaway: ACA reporting is a must-have for today’s HRIS systems.

4. Social Interaction

Our culture’s social media addiction has created employees who crave interaction with others at work. Studies show that worker productivity and morale increase when employees are allowed to engage with social media, but many companies don’t want to provide open access to Facebook and Twitter on the job.

The solution for many is an internal social network that gives employees a mental break while still keeping them connected to their jobs as they interact about current projects. UltiPro, for example, offers a collaborative social network that facilitates cross-functional interaction to keep employees engaged and also captures performance management info.

Takeaway: Social platforms provide opportunities for employees to engage within the context of company culture.

These are just a few of the trends I heard about from the many vendors at SHRM 2016. What were your top takeaways from the Exposition Hall?


About the Author: Susan McClure is our new resident content marketer at She will be writing about the search, selection, and implementation of HR technology, as well as HR outsourcing and general employment issues. When she isn’t writing, you might find her researching online marketing trends, browsing shelves at the library, or digging in the garden with her family and fur kids. 

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