What Is An HR Portal?

A Human Resources portal is an interface through which employees can access documents and workflows. It is a centralized, web-based gateway to the company workforce management system. Human Resources portals are sometimes called employee self-service (ESS) systems. They allow employees to complete Human Resources transactions on their own. Administrators handle their necessary part of the operations, but they don’t generally interact with the employee.

An HR portal is an intranet. Intranet providers use protocols like TCP/IP and FTP to transmit data bi-directionally over the internet. An intranet appears and works like any website except it is not available to the general public. It is designed and managed for a private group, such as a company’s staff. Authorized users access the site with a password.

Processes managed through an HR portal may include:

  • Employee database
  • Shift clock in/out
  • Time cards
  • Work schedules
  • Shift trading
  • PTO accruals
  • Vacation requests
  • Payroll information
  • Tax forms
  • Benefits enrollment
  • Employee handbooks
  • Company policies
  • Training
  • Performance reviews
  • Notifications/alerts
  • Suggestion box
  • Recognition board
  • Wellness programs
  • Expense reimbursement claims
  • Company news and announcements

The first ESS dashboards were limited to an employee database and clock in/out page. Workforce management vendors expanded them to include scheduling and other functions. If you look at what’s on the market today, you can find systems with every Human Resources transaction imaginable.

HR portals also have companion mobile apps which permit access from any web-connected device. With these systems, employees and management can access the Human Resources department any time day or night. This is important for companies with telecommuters, mobile workers, and multiple offices.

Some systems also integrate with third-party business software applications. SwipeClock’s WorkforceHUB, for example, works with payroll, 401k, and employee performance applications. These unified systems simplify business operations for every department.

Before cloud computing, custom workforce management software was housed on the company’s servers. It was maintained by the in-house IT department. These systems required a large upfront cost and updates when new versions were available.

Cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) systems have many advantages over older legacy systems. When a company chooses a software provider, they pay a monthly fee. This amount is usually based on the number of employees enrolled in the system. Some services require a contract but many can be used month-to-month with no long-term commitment.

With a subscription-like fee structure, companies can budget a predictable monthly cost. These systems are not only scalable, they are elastic. This makes them ideal for growing companies or those whose workforce varies in size throughout the year.

The software vendor maintains the system and provides technical support to users. They also handle software updates which ensures that clients are always using the latest version.

We have now explained what they are. Let’s discuss the things you should consider when choosing one.

What Should You Include On Your HR Portal?

First, decide what your goals are.

Do you frequently have staffing problems with under- and over-staffed shifts?

If so, you definitely want a shift trade board. This centralized shift exchange allows your employees to swap shifts without going through a manager. You can customize exchange boards according to company policies or wage and hour laws. For example, you may require manager approval for some employees or teams. You can set overtime thresholds or shift length limits. This will help you avoid FLSA and ACA problems. Auto-alerts keep everyone informed of schedule changes. Nobody can say, “I didn’t know I was working today.”

Are you trying to better serve your employees?

Most everyone expects self-service from businesses and other institutions. We access bank accounts online, pay at the gas pump, and book flights on our phone. It doesn’t make sense for employees to interact with administrators. (Don’t take it personally, all of you highly-appreciated HR professionals!) It is frustrating for employees, managers, and admin staff to use clunky manual processes.

Does it take a long time to get new employees up to speed?

When you hire a new employee, you want them to start contributing as quickly as possible. Manual onboarding can be a big pain. HR portals with onboarding tools are gaining popularity for good reason.

Is there confusion about company policies?

Be sure your portal links to key documents that all employees should have access to. These could include sick leave, diversity, social media use, and vacation requests.

If you are a small business or start-up, you may have never formalized company rules in a written document. It may just be general knowledge that conflicting vacation requests are granted to the employee with the most seniority. Or maybe you only allow workers to access social media during meals and breaks. Your attendance policy will become more important as you grow. Here’s your chance to nail down the specifics and put them down on (virtual) paper. As your company evolves, you will probably have to update policies. When the documents live in the cloud instead of a binder, updates are quick and easy.

Are you trying to make your operations more efficient?

Target your manual processes—they are the usual suspects when it comes to workplace inefficiency. Paper timesheets, tax forms, and benefits enrollment are time-consuming to complete the traditional way. For both the employee and the administrator who must process them. Move these to your HR portal and relieve the hassle for everyone involved.

Calling a system an “HR portal” is a bit limiting. It’s more accurate to think of it as your company’s internal operations website or back office. Your employees will interact with it every day. It can be customized to reflect your business. It will increase staff unity and strengthen your corporate identity.

With WorkforceHUB, SwipeClock provides the latest technology in HR portals. To learn how you can customize WorkforceHUB for your business, schedule a demo at SwipeClock HR portals.

By Liz Strikwerda