HRIS vs HCM: Which Is Best for Behavioral Health Organizations?

HR manager using a tablet

When looking for a new HR solution, you’ll likely encounter different terms and acronyms. Think HRIS, HCM, HRMS, ATS, and old-school HR software. But while some people use these terms interchangeably, they’re not the same, making it even more challenging to understand the differences. That’s why we’re comparing these systems — specifically HRIS vs HCM — to clarify what each stands for and what they offer.

Both options have plenty of benefits and helpful features, but not all systems will meet the specific needs of behavioral health and human services organizations. As such, let’s explore the similarities and differences between HRIS and HCM to determine which solution is right for your organization. 

HRIS vs HCM vs HR Software: What Do All These Terms Mean?

HRIS vs HCM: entrepreneur using a tablet at her office

Finding the right HR technology can be confusing as there are several terms often used interchangeably. However, each acronym has its own standard definition and each service generally offers a different set of features. Here’s a breakdown of three of the most common terms that you will come across when searching for a new HR solution.

What Is HRIS?

A human resource information system, or HRIS, is a category of software that stores and organizes employee data. Think of it as a digital version of the old-school cabinets full of employee files. HRIS systems track employee information including job titles, contact information, organizational hierarchies, compensation, and more. This data helps companies keep clear HR records and can be used to generate workforce data reports within the HRIS.

Many HRIS solutions also support basic HR processes such as absence management, hiring, benefits, and compensation. Keep in mind that HRIS features do vary quite a bit. Some vendors and HR professionals have broadened the traditional definition to include added functions beyond the standard scope of an HRIS system.

What Is HCM?

HCM stands for human capital management. This term refers to the strategic management of your human capital (aka employees and contract workers) to support your organizational goals and growth. 

It encompasses core HR functions such as payroll processing, talent acquisition, onboarding, benefits administration, employee performance management, and absence management. An HCM platform is an HR software solution that supports all of these key functions.

While a traditional HRIS offers employee data management and supports some basic administrative functions of human resources, an HCM system takes things a step further by adding more comprehensive tools that support the strategic side of HR. 

Some features that can typically be found in an HCM include:

  • Recruiting: Distribute job postings, organize resumes and applicant data, and manage candidate communications within the platform using recruiting tools.
  • Onboarding: Streamline the onboarding process with easy digital onboarding paperwork, onboarding task management, check-in scheduling, and more.
  • Talent management: Manage employee performance with regular check-ins and reviews, goal-setting, and professional development tools.
  • Labor budgeting: Many HCMs have workforce planning and budgeting features that help organizations forecast their staffing needs and costs and track whether they are going over the expected labor budget.
  • Benefits administration: Facilitate benefits enrollment and provide easily accessible self-service benefits information to employees.
  • Payroll processing: Simplify payroll by automating payroll and tax calculations and creating a seamless in-platform approval workflow.

What Is HR Software?

HR software is a more general term that encompasses HRIS software, HCM platforms, human resource management systems (HRMS), recruiting management systems, and other digital tools designed to support human resources activities. 

All of these HR tools support the HR department in some way, but the specific features vary greatly. Some are designed to meet specific needs such as recruiting or payroll while others provide more robust features. If you’re in the market for a new HR system, it’s best to narrow in on what specific category or type of software will best fit your business needs rather than using general terms like HR software.

HRIS vs HCM: Which Is Best Suited for Behavioral Health?

HRIS vs HCM: employees looking at a laptop

HCM software is typically designed to offer a comprehensive and unified solution, meaning that it combines all HR and workforce management tools in one single platform. For behavioral health organizations, this is typically the most ideal option. 

The behavioral health industry presents a number of HR challenges, including high turnover rates, elevated employee burnout rates, budget constraints, and major staffing shortages. As such, leaders in this industry need tools that go beyond the basic HRIS features. 

Advanced talent management and employee recognition functions can help HR teams promote employee engagement and retention by providing encouragement and professional growth opportunities. Meanwhile, stronger budgeting and reporting tools can ensure behavioral health organizations are hiring and scheduling enough providers to meet patient demand without going over budget or overhiring.

One other benefit of using a unified HCM rather than using a separate payroll software, HRIS, applicant tracking system, and other tools is that the employee information can seamlessly flow between features or modules. There’s no need to re-enter new hire information that was already provided during the recruiting phase, and time-tracking data can seamlessly flow into payroll for easier timesheet processing. 

Other solutions may offer integrations between systems, but that’s still not quite as seamless as a fully unified solution. It’s also easier for employees to access all of their self-service features like checking pay stubs or updating their address in one platform rather than having to manage several log-ins.

One other consideration is that most standard HRIS and even HCM solutions are not optimized to organize employee data in the most effective manner for behavioral health organizations.

Most HR software use employee-based frameworks to organize employee information, but a position-based framework is often a better fit for behavioral health organizations. For instance, features like Position Control focus on positions rather than individual employees to give organizations a clearer view of their overall workforce, staffing needs, and labor spending. 

Position Control within an HCM system allows HR teams to assign specific attributes to each job role including required credentials, who the role reports to, and salary ranges to allow for easier compliance tracking, hiring, succession planning, and more. 

HRIS vs HCM: Choose a Unified Platform to Boost Performance

Once you know the differences between HRIS vs HCM systems, you can confidently select an HR solution to upgrade your people management processes and procedures. For the most well-rounded system, your best bet is a human capital management solution. And for an even better experience, you’ll want a platform made specifically for your industry.

ContinuumCloud’s HCM platform was designed to meet the specific needs of behavioral health and human services organizations while providing a unified system that supports all of the core administrative and strategic HR functions. With a wide range of features that support team members throughout the entire employee lifecycle, our HCM reduces the administrative burden for HR teams. Moreover, it provides a better employee experience through a user-friendly and centralized employee self-service portal. Also, because our solution is cloud-based, there’s no need for cumbersome hardware. 

Contact us to learn more about ContinuumCloud’s HCM platform and explore how it can meet your organization’s HR needs. From Position Control to advanced workforce reporting, ContinuumCloud provides the tools your company needs to take HR management to the next level.

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