Global HR 20 min

HRIS Selection Guide: The 4 best HRIS systems for international expansion

Written by Barbara Matthews
Barbara Matthews

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Human resource (HR) teams are well-acquainted with the growing pains that come with company expansion. And when your expansion takes on a global scale, there are even more challenges to face head-on.

This is where a global HRIS system becomes invaluable.

What started as a shift from manual to digital employee management has evolved into a platform that manages the entire employee lifecycle. Human resource information systems (HRISs) assist HR personnel with their responsibilities through automation, organization, and digitization. 

But with so many software options available, how can you find the best HRIS system for your company? And if you’re just putting out feelers for growing your business, what do you need to look for to leave the door to global expansion open?

Globally distributed teams thrive when they have the support of caring HR professionals and the foundation of solid employee management software, such as HRIS systems. When a remote workforce is supported, and empowered, it can produce high-quality results from around the globe.

Adopting a global-first mindset may require some shifts in your company’s processes. However, you stand to build a healthy company culture that celebrates its remote workforce and enables its distributed teams to collaborate and communicate effectively. 

In this guide, we provide practical advice on creating a global-first mindset and arm you with the knowledge and HRIS tools your HR department needs for international success. We'll take a look at what global expansion means for your team members and learn how you can find an HRIS solution that can help you manage your employees globally.  

Why are businesses looking into global expansion?

Whether you’re a startup or an established multi-million-dollar corporation, expanding globally is one of the best ways for your company to stay competitive. 

A distributed team can tap into local knowledge that can help you discover new markets and expand your customer base. And diversifying the markets in which you operate means you’re no longer at the mercy of a single country’s economic or political state.

What does it mean to have a global mindset?

Having a global mindset goes beyond prioritizing remote-friendly business practices. It means building your company around inclusive principles that build a diverse workforce. It also means digitizing and automating as many of your business processes as possible to accommodate distributed teams.  

Prioritizing global growth in this way means you gain access to international talent, localized insights, and global markets. Hiring remote employees is one of the most cost-effective ways to start expanding your business across borders. By limiting your office space or going fully remote, you keep your overhead costs to a minimum. You can also shift your physical operations to locations that are less expensive, cutting costs even more.

And, since 65% of employees want to work remotely full time, allowing remote work attracts top talent from around the world. 

By shifting to a remote-first mindset, you’ll enjoy: 

  • Improved satisfaction for remote workers 

  • Increased flexibility for in-office workers

  • Improved company culture 

  • Increased productivity 

  • A stronger company overall 

But the best part is, you are no longer constrained by location. You can hire talent from anywhere. And then collaborate, create, and grow through a distributed workforce made up of whatever blend of remote, hybrid, and in-office teams works for your company.

Global expansion means cultivating a resilient and diverse workforce from a nearly limitless talent pool. And when you tap into the insights and versatility of your global teams, your company becomes unstoppable. 

What’s the difference between “remote-friendly” and “remote-first”?

A remote-friendly company adapts its existing systems to allow for increased flexibility but keeps its in-person team as its primary focus. 

A remote-first company uses systems and processes that are specifically intended for a remote team, rather than adapting or trying to scale its in-person solutions. The focus is on the work the employees produce, not the locations they work from. Because the company’s foundation is remote, which means it’s inherently location-agnostic, it’s easier to expand beyond borders.

Remote-first companies face unique HR challenges, including an increased need for remote employee management solutions and global payroll

What are the advantages of a remote-first culture?

Adopting a remote-first culture allows businesses around the world to enjoy:

  • Access to global talent, as you can employ highly skilled workers from anywhere in the world.  

  • Satisfied employees and higher employee engagement due to increased flexibility and autonomy throughout each work day. 

  • Increased employee productivity since remote workforces companies to streamline digital processes so that they’re functional and efficient.

However, you’ll need a global HR solution to handle such a distributed workforce and bring home these benefits.

While it’s clear that global expansion is a great idea, many companies fail to anticipate the challenges that come with managing an international team. As your company grows across borders, the scale of your HR responsibilities increases, and you’ll need robust HR software to bridge any gaps. An affordable, scalable, cloud-based HRIS software can help both small and large businesses manage their distributed teams quickly and easily. 

The role of HRIS in international expansion

Your HR department manages the entire employee lifecycle, supporting employees from recruitment to retirement. Distributed organizations require tailored HR support that meets the needs of remote employees working in different time zones. 

Essentially, international expansion means adapting every normal business process to function online and off-schedule. That means implementing remote and asynchronous onboarding, communication, and payroll. 

HR challenges during international expansion

As you expand your company’s borders, you may encounter challenges in the following areas: 

Onboarding

How do you smoothly onboard global employees while considering language barriers, differing expectations, and cultural nuances? You need a standardized onboarding process and thorough training documentation that employees can access at any time from any device. 

Multiple time zones

How do you coordinate teams across multiple time zones? You need to adopt asynchronous workflows to allow for employee flexibility and autonomy.

Communication

How do you liaise with employees without in-person meetings or synchronous communication? 

You need a robust communication platform that can handle asynchronous communication practices, run remote meetings, and arrange different conversations to keep employees and managers organized.

Compensation How do you calculate fair compensation for global employees?  You need a global compensation partner to set appropriate salaries and wages for workers around the world. 

Collaboration

How do you coordinate team members and encourage idea sharing among them when they’ve never met? You need a company culture that encourages feedback and progress sharing.

Payroll

How do you compliantly pay employees and contractors in different currencies? You will need a payroll system that can handle multiple currencies and work with various payment platforms. 

Tax compliance

How do you remain compliant with the local tax laws and benefits requirements of multiple countries? You need a global employment partner that removes your permanent establishment risk and ensures compliance with local laws. 

Data safety

How do you protect employee data to ensure its security? You need an HR platform that complies with the highest data safety standards to protect your employees’ data.  

Scaling a company globally is challenging work, but it can be harder to manage a remote workforce across countries and ensure proper onboarding, benefits, payroll procedures, and compliance with local laws.  

To accelerate your international growth, you’ll need to evolve into a global remote-first company and use the services of a reliable HRIS platform custom-built to handle global teams. 

How does an HRIS help you construct a global culture?

Global teams are made up of individuals with different skills, abilities, talents, cultures, and social norms. To celebrate these differences, you need to create a global company culture that caters to all team members and provides the same level of opportunity for all. 

A global HRIS platform can help you create and maintain a global company culture by standardizing the employee experience. Wherever they’re based, each employee goes through standardized onboarding procedures, adopts the same communication standards and working culture, and has access to the same payroll software and practices. 

The importance of adopting a global mindset

Companies looking to grow globally often want to adopt a global mindset due to the following competitive advantages it offers:  

  • Teams can quickly identify gaps in diverse markets.

  • Team members have a more nuanced understanding of the products and services the company offers.

  • The company can find a competitive balance between local adaptation and global standardization.

  • Team members can rapidly and efficiently share best practices with each other to improve the company’s standards and product quality.

  • The rollout of new products and services is faster because the company can be online 24/7, even if individual workers stick to regular business hours.

The real importance of creating a global culture isn’t about the competitive advantage it offers. Rather, it’s about learning to understand and anticipate the complexities and subtleties of managing a global team

How to construct a global company culture

Follow the steps below to construct a global culture with the help of an HRIS.

1. Acknowledge and address biases. Everyone has subconscious prejudices that influence the way they make decisions or react in different scenarios. In globally distributed companies, it’s important to avoid letting the mere exposure effect influence hiring practices, marketing strategies, and resource priorities. 

An HRIS helps to standardize hiring practices and work processes to ensure all employees have an even footing in your company. 

2. Encourage inclusion and empathy. When working with a diverse group of people, it’s important to encourage and reward empathetic and inclusive behavior. Over time, this breeds a harmonious and distinct company culture that allows employees from around the world to work and thrive together.

Some HRIS platforms include feedback facilities where employees and managers can share positive and constructive feedback. 

3. Facilitate learning. Education is the foundation of an inclusive culture. Facilitate multicultural collaboration in your company by providing ample opportunities for your employees to expand their understanding. This learning could be in the form of sensitivity training, sharing sessions, or webinars on cultural differences. 

Top HRIS systems allow companies to store educational documents, links, or media that employees can access from anywhere and at any time.

4. Foster effective communication. Clear communication is essential for remote and distributed teams to stay on the same page. Instead of using multiple platforms to communicate, you can move to a single, robust communication platform and establish a communication hierarchy that employees can follow if they have problems or questions. 

An HRIS centralizes all your company communications in a single, cloud-based platform. 

What does an HRIS do for your company?

Simply put, an HRIS system is a solution to the issues that come with international expansion. 

One of the main purposes of an HRIS is to improve an organization’s efficiency by keeping your company’s tech stack lean. If your HR team has to constantly juggle several kinds of software or competing systems to complete various tasks, you’ll only need one HRIS software to do them all. 

Some top advantages of using an HRIS include the following: 

Data-driven decisions 

Many HRIS platforms put together analytical reports on employee data and behavior. These reports help HR professionals make data-informed decisions about company growth, work processes, hiring practices, and more. 

Enhanced the user experience

HRIS systems with user-friendly interfaces make it easier for HR team members nd employees to complete HR-related tasks such as looking through job applications, upskilling, or enrolling in benefits. 

Automate time-intensive HR tasks

HRIS automates most of the time-intensive administrative tasks that HR personnel are responsible for each day. This speeds up HR processes, boosts productivity, and reduces the time and effort needed to manually compile payroll, time and attendance tracking, and other administrative data. 

Maintain tax compliance 

Global HRIS providers include law-monitoring capabilities that help businesses stay compliant with taxation laws from around the world. These platforms also ensure compliance with benefits and time-off requirements in different regions. 

Simplify the management of growing teams

Global HRIS platforms are custom-built to help companies expand their HR department without needing to onboard hundreds of HR professionals. These cloud-based tools are highly scalable and can accommodate business growth without straining the company’s resources. 

What are the five types of HRIS systems?

Different companies will benefit from different types of HRIS software. The best HRIS for your company depends on your teams’ sizes, the amount of interaction between employees, and the type of work your company does. 

The five main types of HRIS are as follows: 

  1. Operational: These platforms are designed to assist with talent management, and they include the functionality needed for hiring, onboarding, or internal transfers.  

  2. Strategic: These platforms are designed to assist with decision-making and goal-setting, and they include the functionality required for workforce planning or succession planning.

  3. Tactical: These platforms are designed to increase operational efficiency and assist with compliance, and they include the functionality needed for resource planning, recruitment, employee training, and employee benefits management. 

  4. Comprehensive: These platforms offer the full scope of HRIS features and combine the functionality of operational, strategic, and tactical HRIS systems. 

  5. Limited-function or specialized: These platforms have narrow functionality, as they focus on key functions. They include an employee database and one or two other features (such as employee benefits or payroll management). Limited-function HRIS platforms are often the most cost-effective option for smaller companies.

Do all companies use HRIS systems?

Although all companies could benefit from using an HRIS, many choose to go without one. New and small businesses, in particular, often opt to manually perform the tasks that HRIS systems take over. 

Once a business starts growing, however, it’s worth implementing an HRIS to keep employee data organized and workflows running smoothly as the team and the associated HR growing pains begin to increase.

The four best HRIS systems for international companies

It’s easy for your company to thrive if it has the right HR software. When you’re on the hunt for an HRIS provider, it’s best to find a platform that’s tailored to your company’s size and goals.

Here’s our selection of the top four HRIS systems:

  • Remote is the best all-rounder for international teams. 

  • BambooHR is the best cloud-based system for local businesses.

  • HiBob is the best system for talent management. 

  • Greenhouse is the best system for recruitment and hiring.

1. Remote

Remote began its journey as an employer of record (EOR) provider that helped international companies handle global payroll promptly and compliantly. Recently, it’s expanded its service offerings to encompass full-scope HRIS functionality.

With years of experience helping companies manage distributed teams, Remote has a unique edge over other HRIS providers. The company’s experience and insights make it an invaluable partner for businesses looking toward steady global growth.

Remote is the ideal HRIS solution for international teams and an exceptional choice for SaaS companies. 

Key features

Here are some of the top features Remote offers:

  • Centralized global HR platform 

  • Employee lifecycle tracking and management

  • Global payroll and compliance 

  • International hiring without an entity 

  • Contractor management and payment 

  • Employee self-service

  • Insights and reports 

Remote integrates with various software you likely already use and offers an open API to help our customers seamlessly complete different HR functions, like:

  • ATS and HRIS 

  • Accounting and tax support 

  • DevOps, security, and analytics

  • Employee management and engagement

  • Equity management 

  • HR consultants

  • Learning, training, and development

  • Immigration and relocation 

Pros

  • Scalable functionality that can accommodate growing distributed teams of every size, from startups to enterprises 

  • 24/5 customer support so that you don’t need to figure things out on your own

  • Security and reliability give you peace of mind that your employee and company data are safe 

Con

  • Since Remote’s full-scope HRIS services are fresh, some features are being improved and developed.

Pricing 

Remote has a free HRIS option available so that you can manage your team right away. For additional services, such as contractor management, global payroll, or EOR, you pay as you go. 

The best thing about Remote’s pricing is that there are no hidden fees, no minimums, and low, flat-rate prices. 

2. BambooHR

BambooHR offers an outside-of-the-box HR solution to help you manage every phase of the employee lifecycle. It shines when you’re looking for accurate and detailed reports to assist with employee performance management. 

BambooHR is a great HRIS solution for any sized company, especially those paying employees only in the U.S. However, if you’re looking to expand your borders, you’ll need to integrate BambooHR with a third-party global payroll provider.

Key features 

BambooHR offers the following convenient features:

  • Applicant tracking

  • Time tracking 

  • Onboarding 

  • Performance management 

  • Payroll management 

  • Custom workflows

  • Reporting function

Pros 

  • Easy and intuitive desktop user interface 

  • Flexible and customizable reports 

  • Time-tracking feature integrates with timesheets and payroll 

Cons 

  • No global/international payroll functionality without a third-party integration

  • No built-in scheduling feature

  • Customization is limited

Pricing 

BambooHR’s Essentials plan starts at $5.25 per month, and its Advantage plan starts at $8.75 per month. A free trial of the software is available. 

3. HiBob 

HiBob, or Bob, offers an intuitive, thorough, and fun approach to HR. With a social media-like home page, employees and managers alike can feel engaged and enthusiastic about their HR tasks. 

Bob allows you to automate HR tasks and create custom, reusable workflows for any HR process. These features come in handy with upskilling processes. 

Bob is a great HRIS solution for businesses interested in talent management and people development analytics. 

Key features 

HiBob’s key features are as follows:

  • Core HR

  • Onboarding 

  • Talent management 

  • Company culture 

  • Compensation management 

  • Analytics and reports 

  • Third-party integrations with additional tools

Pros

  • Intuitive user interface 

  • Flexible and customizable features 

  • Detailed reports 

Cons

  • No applicant tracking functionality without a third-party integration

  • No internal payroll functionality without a third-party integration

Pricing

HiBob pricing plans start at $8 per user per month. A free trial of the software is available. 

4. Greenhouse

Greenhouse is a recruitment and hiring optimization platform that handles everything from applications and interview feedback to offer creation. You can consider Greenhouse to be an ATS+ since it builds on a foundation of talent acquisition and advanced applicant tracking to encompass everything you need to recruit and hire talent successfully.  

This platform is ideal for large companies with consistent and high-volume hiring needs. 

Key features 

Greenhouse’s main features are as follows:

  • Applicant tracking

  • Application Integration

  • Recruitment management 

  • Resume database with search functionality

  • Candidate sourcing, evaluation, and management 

  • Interview management 

  • Self-service portal 

Pros

  • You can see the progress of multiple applications at once

  • Greenhouse outlines each interviewee’s recruiting journey for transparency and consistency

  • Great customer support during setup and implementation 

Cons

  • The amount you’ll pay depends on the size of your business, not your usage of the platform

  • No internal payroll functionality without a third-party integration

  • Limited customization compared to competitors

Pricing 

Greenhouse bills annually, and prices for custom plans are available on request. Costs are tailored to the size of your company and your needs.  

How to choose an HRIS system

Choosing an HRIS for your company is one of the most important business decisions you can make, as this tool manages the heart of your company: the people. Identifying your HR needs and goals is essential if you want to find a feasible long-term solution.

You do want your HR solution to lighten the workload for your HR team. You don’t want to introduce new frustrations while your HRIS tries to solve an issue in a suboptimal way.

You do want your HR solution to scale with your company. You don’t want to have to switch platforms every few years as your company grows.  

When should I get an HRIS? 

While we believe that every business can benefit from HRIS implementation, we understand that budgets only stretch so far. For new and small businesses especially, HRIS software can feel like an unnecessary spend. 

Two main scenarios point to an immediate need for an HRIS:

  1. When your current HR processes aren’t meeting your needs. If your employee data is a mess and your HR team is overworked, you need an HRIS to take over — stat. 

  2. When you’re about to expand your team. Implementing (and getting used to) an HRIS before you bring on many new hires makes the transition to unfamiliar software much easier. You’ll have fewer employees who need to change their processes to fit within the new system, and new hires will learn the system from the get-go. 

What to look for in an HRIS

When you’re on the hunt for the best HRIS for your business, you need to know your needs and priorities inside and out. For instance:

  • Where are your main HR pain points? 

  • Are there gaps in the functionality of your current HRIS solution? 

  • If you consider your company goals, what core HR tools will help you get there?

When you know the answers to these questions, you can narrow your search down to a few key features.

  • If you want to foster collaboration for distributed teams → look for an HRIS with communication features.

  • If you want your company to grow → look for an HRIS with hiring and onboarding features.

  • If you want to pay contractors quickly in multiple countries → look for an HRIS with global payroll solutions and international benefits management features.  

Which is the best HRIS platform?

There are hundreds of different HRIS platforms available, and most of them are designed to fulfill functions for specific businesses or industries. 

That being said, Remote is the best HRIS platform for the following reasons:

  1. Its scalable functionality. Remote’s HRIS features grow with your business, easily accommodating every business size, from two-man teams to multi-million-dollar enterprises. 

  2. Its wide range of service offerings. Remote prides itself on providing the tools you need to manage the complete employee lifecycle, carrying your teams from hiring to offboarding. 

  3. Its simple integrations. Remote makes it easy to integrate with leading HR and employment partners to ensure you have the full scope of features you need. 

Start creating a global culture to attract global talent

Global expansion isn’t without its challenges, but we hope this guide has given you a solid starting point and direction. 

With this guide in your back pocket, you now know:

  • Why global expansion is important 

  • How to build a global-first mindset

  • How to identify your expansion needs and priorities 

  • How to choose the best HRIS system to facilitate global growth 

The advice in this guide will help you, but there’s always more to learn about global expansion and HR. If you’re looking for a global expansion partner, Remote’s got you covered with compliance, global payroll, employee management, and so much more.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more, check out Remote and let us help you start growing your international workforce. 

27 min

The ultimate HRIS guide for companies going global

Explore HRIS technology in detail, learn the variations in common terminology, and understand how to select the best global HR platforms for your company’s specific needs.

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