Make Your HRIS Smarter

Updated: April 30, 2009

An HRIS is a great way to store, organize and retrieve employee information. But exactly what types of information do you need to track? The answer depends, to a greater or lesser extent, on exactly what a business does, who it employs and the people and organizations it needs to report to. Still, there are certain types of data that should be tracked by just about any business.

Basic Data. This is the fundamental stuff that just about any HRIS contains. Employee names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, Social Security numbers, job titles, hiring dates, termination dates, health histories, emergency-contact phone numbers, education details, and current and past salaries are all standard items.

Specialized Data. Your business may need workers that possess a special ability and/or documentation. If so, this information needs to be collected and tracked. Licenses, security-clearance levels, test scores, visual- or hearing-acuity statistics, and languages spoken are just some of the specialized information that can be pumped into an HRIS for future reference and analysis.

Hours Worked. The number of hours your employees work, with overtime, holiday and other special rates included, is a benchmark that will help business managers calculate worker-productivity rates, negotiate labor contracts and reach a variety of informed decisions.

Staff Profile. How many people does your business employ? Where do they work? Who do they report to? What jobs do they perform? Very small firms usually don't have to worry about maintaining a staff profile, but any business with 20 or more employees needs to track its work force in order to make sure that it's covering all the bases.

Vacations and Leaves. Scheduling, organizing and reporting employee vacations and leaves is a challenge for any business. That's why it's important to accurately track who will be going away (including when and for how long), as well as who is currently away and who was away (to determine if they are eligible for additional vacation or leave time).

Sick Days/Personal Days. This is another scheduling-oriented tracking task that will help managers uncover long-term absence trends, as well as identify individual employees who may be slacking off or experiencing undisclosed health problems.

Injuries. Besides the pain and suffering they afflict on workers and their families, on-the-job accidents can lead to a variety of negative conditions, including higher insurance costs, diminished productivity, poor morale and high worker-turnover rates. Tracking injuries will enable managers to pinpoint dangerous activities and processes, potentially reducing the number of future injuries.

Citizenship/Residency Status. With the government cracking down on illegal immigration, businesses need to be able to prove that all of their employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S.

Terminations. To help protect your business in the event of a lawsuit filed by a disgruntled former employee, you'll want to include termination dates, cause, supervisor names and any other relevant information.

Sex and Ethnicity. This is a touchy area, but many organizations need this data to report to file reports with the government, as well as to protect themselves in lawsuits alleging hiring bias. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires private employers with more than 100 employees to file EE0-1 forms, an annual work force data report that makes employers list, by job category, the number of employees by sex, race and ethnicity.

Disabilities. You'll need data on employee disability types and rates to help your business cope with federal, state and local disability laws, as well as potential hiring-bias lawsuits.

Vacant Positions. This data will help managers discover how long a particular job has been open, whether applicants are still being sought, if the position has been placed on "hold," the job's salary level, whether there are similar openings within the department or company, and other pertinent data that can lead to informed staffing decisions.

New Hires. Recently hired employees should be tracked separately from the rest of the work force so that managers can monitor the newbies' work habits and performance.

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