What are HR portals?

Deepak Juneja


Nowadays, accessing information quickly and easily is a part of our everyday lives. Whether it’s online banking, news headlines, or booking tickets, we are used to self-service. Today’s employees expect the same in the workplace. And HR portals use that vital self-service principle to connect staff with the information they need when they need it. HR portals improve the employee experience – crucial in the context of the Great Resignationand deliver operational efficiencies. It’s a powerful win-win. So, if you are not using a portal, you are missing out on a host of benefits.

This post provides an overview of all you need to know about HR portals, helping you make informed decisions.

Let’s get started with a definition.

What are HR portals?

They are online gateways, which give workers access to HR-related data, information, and systems. However, they are not just document libraries. The best HR portals are dynamic and interactive.

Workers use portals for onboarding and checking company news, policies, benefits, and entitlements. Employees can also complete online workflows, including vacation requests and new hire paperwork. And some companies even manage recruitment, payroll, performance reviews, or professional development through the portal.

Benefits of HR portal software

We have touched on some benefits already, but here's a full rundown:

  • Enhanced employee experience: Your people will enjoy having more control over information. Portals mean they can access vital data when they need it most. And that's more important than ever, with remote and hybrid working taking center stage.
  • Time saved: Your HR portal is a centralized information hub and will save employees' time. And it also means your HR staff is not wasting time responding to simple queries.
  • Streamlined processes: Automated workflows and approvals are more efficient ways to get things done. There’s less opportunity for error or misplaced data. And managers have more oversight and control.
  • Less paper: Online resources mean you use less paper and save on printing and distribution costs. And that’s a big plus for companies conscious of their green credentials. Furthermore, it's much easier to keep the information updated.
  • Standardized compliance: Online workflows help standardize compliance and reduce the risk of violations. This feature is useful in highly regulated industries and for consistent onboarding.

What types of business are best suited to HR portals?

Companies of all shapes and sizes will benefit from portals. And it’s fast becoming the best practice in many industries.

Here are some practical examples of how companies are using the software.

Hospitality venues and retailers: HR portals can streamline shift scheduling. Staff rosters are easier to organize with online employee availability and contact details.

Companies with distributed teams: Self-service portals level the information playing field for remote workers. And online workflows cut down on email traffic, speeding up business processes.

Field service companies: The mobile-friendly HR portal is a lifeline for workers on the road. They can complete timesheets, notify managers when sick, or even carry out training.

Small businesses without an HR department: If you don’t have a dedicated HR team, portals ensure workers can find answers to common questions. Self-service means staff can get the information directly from employee benefits to payroll information or organizational charts.

HR portals: What are the options?

It is possible to build your own platform while some businesses engage a consultant. However, both these options can be expensive. Plus, testing the software onsite is often time-consuming.

Most organizations select an out-of-the-box cloud solution. These SaaS options are tried, tested and cost-effective. Many providers include customization features so you can adapt the platform to suit your needs. With SaaS providers, your HR portal is up and running with the minimum amount of effort and hassle.

Essential HR portal features

Here are the essential features to consider when evaluating different software.

  • Cost: Prices vary considerably between vendors. Most are priced based on the number of employees, and there may also be setup fees. However, it pays to shop around with plenty of options on the market. You can expect to pay from $1 per employee for basic packages. Advanced options with extra features like leave tracking and performance management cost around $15 per user.
  • Ease of use: Make sure the software has an engaging UI with simple navigation. Single sign-on access or integration with other apps you use is also handy. And easy-to-use HR portals help minimize your staff training costs.
  • Security: Role-based security ensures workers only see data relevant to their job. Furthermore, double-check the provider uses the latest online security features such as SSL encryption.
  • Mobile optimized: Off-site workers should enjoy the same self-service access as office staff. Be sure to check the platform's performance on mobile devices.
  • Workflows: Not all portals come with automated workflows as a standard feature. However, to be genuinely self-service, employees must be able to initiate an update like a change of address without involving HR staff. Plus, workflows are just more efficient. Period.

Final thoughts

HR portals are an excellent investment for companies of all sizes. Streamlined processes save precious time and improve productivity. The benefits to your people are even better as self-service gives workers more control and faster data access. And you will soon see the benefits in improved retention and higher employee engagement.

We all know happy employees equal more motivated, productive workers. However, ultimately, satisfied employees mean happy customers, and that's great news for every business.

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