Global HR 7 min

HRIS vs. employee management software: What does your business need?

Written by Barbara Matthews
July 1, 2024
Barbara Matthews


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Just because you work with a distributed team doesn't mean your HR software needs to be scattered. So what is the best HR platform for your business?

Human resource information systems (HRISs) and employee management software (EMS) are common HR tools to help you manage your global team. Yet many people may be unclear on the difference between the two.

In this article, we’ll unravel the nuances between an HRIS and EMS to help you determine the right choice for your business.

And don't be surprised – neither may be the best option when you manage a global team.

What is an HRIS?

An HRIS is a software that helps manage and automate various HR processes. It acts as a centralized hub for businesses to manage important HR tasks in one place. 

The primary job of an HRIS is to simplify employee data management, payroll processing, benefits administration, and performance tracking. An HRIS is a popular tool. In fact, 25% of businesses use an HRIS to improve their functionality. 

An HRIS helps you make better decisions based on data. HR professionals can create meaningful reports, analyze trends, and strategize for workforce optimization with employee information.

An HRIS also gives employees more autonomy and convenience through employee self-service portals. Employees can access their personal information, request time off, and view their payslips through an HRIS.

What is an EMS?

An EMS is a software that helps companies oversee and coordinate their workforce and employees more effectively. It goes beyond traditional HR tasks by offering a comprehensive set of features that enhance the employee experience and productivity.

HR professionals can create a better work experience by using an EMS to onboard new hires, manage employee information, track attendance, evaluate performance, and stay compliant with labor regulations. 

HR professionals can also use performance management tools within an EMS to set goals, provide valuable feedback, and assess employee progress.

EMS is rapidly gaining popularity for companies looking for efficient and user-friendly talent management tools. In fact, the global EMS market is expected to reach 12.57 billion USD by 2032.

HRIS vs. EMS: What’s the difference?

HRIS and EMS systems both play key roles in managing human resources tasks. We’ve categorized their key differences into three main areas to help you understand their unique features and advantages.

Scope and focus: Differentiating HRIS and EMS


An HRIS primarily focuses on handling administrative HR tasks. It’s designed to simplify complex HR processes and provide an easy and efficient solution for companies that manage a large number of employees.

Some HRIS come with an employee self-serve option. Leave management and expense management can be much easier when employees can submit requests themselves.


An EMS offers more functions compared to an HRIS. In addition to administrative tasks, EMS often comes with specialized tools for employee management. These can be collaboration tools or communication tools to increase employee engagement.


An HRIS simplifies and automates monotonous HR tasks. An EMS incorporates specialized tools for talent management.

Key functionality: Core strengths of HRIS and EMS


Core functionalities of an HRIS include data management, report generation, and streamlining HR workflows. This can include payroll processing and benefits administration.

Its centralized platform helps HR teams securely store and manage employee data. It also generates reports that help HR professionals analyze trends, improve training, and plan for effective workforce management. 


The goal of an EMS is to enhance employee experience, productivity, and performance. For example, an EMS can offer better onboarding for new hires or implement performance management strategies.

EMS can also automate compliance processes to minimize the risk of non-compliance and potential HR-related penalties.


While an HRIS excels in data management, streamlining administrative workflows, and helping employees self-serve, an EMS focuses more specifically on the employee experience, productivity, and performance.

Suitability and scale: Finding the right fit


An HRIS is suitable for organizations wanting to automate HR tasks. It is a good choice for corporations that need a centralized and comprehensive HR management platform.


EMS is designed for organizations of all sizes, as it offers flexibility and adaptability to specific HR workflows and requirements. Because it has customizable features, it’s ideal for small and medium-sized businesses and growing companies that need a tailored employee management solution. 


An HRIS works well for businesses looking to streamline administrative tasks. These tools are especially powerful for growing teams and larger organizations. EMS offers a versatile solution that can be customized to fit organizations of all sizes.

HRIS vs. EMS: Which one do you need for global HR management?

The short answer is one platform with both functions. Integrating the two systems gives you a robust HR ecosystem that takes care of global hiring and remote employee management

Consolidating your HR platform helps you avoid software bloat, minimize expense, and automate manual tasks. A combined solution like Remote HR Management helps distributed teams manage complex HR tasks with ease.

If a business has more specific needs, the combination of multiple advanced solutions can be helpful. For example, Remote HR Management can be integrated with other EMS and HRIS platforms with more extensive feature sets. This means HR professionals have a complete view of employment data and the ability to hire, pay, and manage a global team compliantly.

The benefits of combining HRIS and EMS

50% of the US workforce, or 86.5 million people, is estimated to freelance by the year 2027. A competitive business needs a comprehensive HR management solution that lets you manage teams members working from anywhere. 

Integrating HRIS and EMS allows companies to tap into the global talent pool and effectively manage a diverse workforce spread across the country or across the world. It also makes it significantly easier for companies to attract and retain top talent from other countries.

More specifically, you can expect the below benefits when integrating an HRIS with an EMS.

Centralized HR management 

Imagine having all your HR tasks streamlined in one easy-to-use system, accessible from anywhere. That’s exactly what you’ll get by integrating your HR platforms.

With all HR processes streamlined in one place, HR managers can create standardized procedures and workflows company-wide. Not only does this save valuable time and effort for HR professionals, but it also helps ensure consistent practices across the entire workforce, whether in-office or remotely.

In fact, 83% of HR professionals say they plan to consolidate their HR software applications within the next 12 months.

people comparing hris and ems

Enhanced compliance management

With HRIS and EMS working together, you have a tool that strengthens compliance across HR processes.

An HRIS securely stores employee data, generates HR reports, and calculates payroll. Meanwhile, an EMS can focus on compliance with local labor laws, tax regulations, and contractor classification.

With a comprehensive HR platform like Remote HR Management, you get both features to compliantly manage a global team. For example, with Remote you can tailor your contracts to specific local laws and stay up-to-date with changing global regulations.

Scalability and flexibility

A good HRIS can accommodate new employee data and HR processes as businesses grow. Meanwhile, you can customize workflows and get more flexibility with an EMS.

An HR platform with both functions optimizes HR management and employee experiences at every stage of your journey. Your system should help your business grow, not block it.

Employee retention

47% of HR managers believe retention and turnover are the top workforce management challenges. Small but practical changes, like integrating an HRIS and EMS can help build a positive work environment and retain talent.

With data from your HR platform, you can update your onboarding and performance management process to increase employee satisfaction and engagement.

Remote’s all-in-one global employment platform

As your business continues to grow globally, your HR data can be more complex and challenging to manage. Remote HR Management helps you consolidate your HR platforms so you reap the benefits of an HRIS and EMS without using multiple tools.

Whether you choose to combine Remote HR Management with your existing HR software or use it as a stand-alone platform, Remote helps you manage your global team.

Combining the administrative functions of an HRIS with Remote’s global employment platform means companies get the best of both worlds: centralized HR management and simplified global HR operations.

A simple solution for growing companies 

For companies looking for a scalable and comprehensive solution without using an enterprise-level HRIS, Remote offers a powerful all-in-one global HR platform. 

Remote HR Management helps you manage international teams, covering everything from payroll, leave management, expense management, and much more. It also includes human capital management functions, helping HR professionals with recruitment and employee training. 

Ready to change the way you manage global HR to optimize your employee experience? Chat with Remote today. 

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