In theory, this is good news for leaders, as it gives them more options when it comes to choosing the right software. But how do these HRIS extensions stack up against dedicated performance, engagement and development platforms like Frankli?
Today, we’ll learn why high-performing teams choose performance and engagement platforms over HRIS extensions. And we’ll start by exploring the key differences between the two.
Also known as a Human Resource Information System, an HRIS software platform helps organisations complete basic HR tasks.
Traditionally, HRIS platforms are repositories for employee data like role, compensation, start date and annual leave allowance.
In recent years, they’ve evolved to include tools for automating payroll processes, managing employee benefits, tracking time and attendance, and generating reports on HR data.
An HRIS platform helps HR teams track employee data and perform basic tasks like automating payroll and administering benefits.
Dedicated software for employee engagement, performance and development supports everyone in the organisation, from junior employees to managers to senior leadership, to build everyday habits that fuel success.
These habits include, but are not exclusive to quarterly goal-setting, weekly progress check-ins, regular 1:1 meetings between employee and manager, and 360° feedback sessions.
In short, an HRIS system helps HR teams perform their work more efficiently. A dedicated employee engagement platform drives high performance at all levels of the organisation.
In a word, no.
HRIS and employee performance and engagement platforms may overlap in some functionalities, especially as more and more HRIS platforms offer performance and engagement-related extensions. But although they may sound similar on paper, they operate very differently.
An HRIS is like a virtual assistant for your HR team - useful, but unlikely to have a huge impact on company performance. Their performance and engagement modules are add-ons to the existing product, not the original, core product. These add-ons need to operate within the parameters of the existing system, meaning you won’t get the same functionality you get from a dedicated performance management system.
The best employee engagement software tools have a singular focus, but still offer depth in terms of functionality. They help teams build a high-performance culture by adopting meaningful rituals like quick praise and goal-focused 1:1 meetings. And these tools are the core product, not an optional extra added years after the original product is launched.
Teams tend to use HRIS extensions to manage performance and engagement because upgrading an existing platform seems like the more convenient option. But this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best option.
Because dedicated performance and engagement platforms work completely differently from HRIS extensions.
Take Frankli as an example. It comprises 7 distinct but aligned tools that work together to drive performance at employee, manager and leadership levels. Everyone in the organisation uses Frankli to track their performance, exchange feedback, and grow their career. It’s an employee-focused, research-based, 360° approach to performance, engagement and development. It’s more sophisticated than an HRIS extension, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more complicated. In fact, customers tend to report the complete opposite!
It’s true that rolling out a performance and engagement platform alongside an HRIS means introducing your teams to a second platform. But it’s not the huge leap it may seem like on paper. The best employee engagement software integrates with all the major HRIS platforms, plus popular tools like MS Teams and Slack. So the transition for your teams should be pretty seamless.
Most high-performing teams use both an HRIS system and a dedicated employee performance and engagement platform to ensure the best possible outcomes for their business (1). Over 95% of Frankli customers have an HRIS integration enabled - you’ll find the full list of HRIS integrations available here.
These companies use the HRIS to automate traditional HR tasks like payroll, benefits and compensation, and a performance and engagement platform to manage essential activities like goal-setting, 1:1 meetings, feedback and career development. Ideally, the two platforms will integrate, creating streamlined workflows and saving valuable time.
Weighing up your options for performance and engagement tools? Remember to keep these 12 factors in mind.
1. Return on Investment
HRIS platforms were designed to make traditional HR tasks more efficient. Many of them are great at this, and, as a result, can save your company time and money.
HRIS extensions for performance management and engagement came later - they’re add-ons, not the core product. Customers often report that it feels like an afterthought, it's too basic and it doesn’t support their needs. So while these tools might be useful, they’re not going to deliver the same return on investment as a dedicated performance and engagement platform like Frankli.
Frankli was developed in line with the latest research in organisational psychology, so it’s data-driven and people-focused. It’s not an add-on to an existing product - Frankli is the core product, comprising 7 aligned tools that work together to form a holistic, 360° approach to employee performance and engagement.
2. Tech Stack Consolidation
Research shows that knowledge workers use an average of 10 tech tools to do their jobs, and switch between them as many as 25 times per day (2). We know context switching kills productivity (3), so you can forgive leaders for wanting to consolidate their team’s tech tools.
Nobody wants to use - or pay for! - 2 software platforms when 1 will do the job. But not all tools are created equally. Those 2 platforms may appear to offer the same functionality, but the results can vary wildly.
Finding tools that work for your people and deliver a high return on investment is more important than maintaining a minimalist tech stack. And, as Frankli integrates with all major HRIS platforms, it helps you avoid the teething issues associated with rolling out a new platform.
When researching the best employee engagement software, you want to find a platform that integrates with tools your teams already use, like MS Teams and Slack. This saves your people time, by allowing them to complete performance and engagement-related tasks in the flow of work.
For example, with Frankli, you can share praise with teammates without ever leaving Slack, but your praise will still be logged in Frankli to be referenced later in performance reviews and 1:1 meetings.
And the benefits go beyond time-saving. For most teams, simply having a channel for exchanging feedback or a seamless way to schedule a 1:1 meeting drives adoption.
Frankli and the top HRIS systems are alike in that they integrate with the most commonly-used apps. And they integrate seamlessly with each other. But the reality is that HRIS extensions are often just lightly connected to the rest of your HRIS data, and that performance management software is more effective at transferring that data.
Frankli also connects to specialist and industry-specific tools like Zendesk, Vincere, Evaluagent that HRIS can’t integrate with.
When it comes to pricing, you need to consider whether you’re already committed to a specific HRIS platform, and the additional costs involved in upgrading to their performance and engagement features.
The cost of an HRIS add-on or upgrade ranges from $7 to $20+ per user per month, so it's almost always greater than the cost of Frankli. This means that, unless you're on the most expensive plan your HRIS offers, you probably won’t make a cost saving by sticking with the platform you already use. In many cases, it will be more expensive than adding Frankli to your tech stack. And none of the HRIS platforms we researched for this piece offer the full range of performance, engagement and development tools that Frankli does (5).
Remember also that employee input in HRIS systems is minimal - they only log in to complete basic tasks like requesting time off or uploading receipts. So inviting them to use performance or engagement extensions will require the same investment in training as with a brand-new platform.
5. Employee Adoption
HRIS platforms are designed for administrators. Frankli was designed for people.
Frankli is a space where employees can take ownership of their performance and career - from the first visit, most employees will see the personal value in using these tools.
They’ll see how Frankli helps them make the most of 1:1 time with their manager, get more useful feedback on their performance, share ideas, contribute to the company culture, plan their next career move, have meaningful conversations about work-life balance, and avoid biases when it comes to reviews and promotions. As a result, employee adoption rates for Frankli are consistently high - 99% of users added to the platform are active within the first 30 days. And when employees start using the platform, they tend to stick around - Frankli’s Monthly Active User rate is 3x the industry average (5).
When an employee logs into an HRIS system, they’re usually there to provide some basic information that the HR team requires. They might go there to request time off, log expenses or sign up for mandatory GDPR training. It’s rarely an inspiring experience, and they’re not in the driver's seat - the platform is.
For this reason, employee adoption with HRIS tools can be a long and costly process, involving repeat training sessions and increased HR team workloads.
Manager experience is another important factor to bear in mind. HRIS systems are rigid and based on traditional, top-down structures. As well as making them uninspiring for employees, this makes them awkward for managers to use.
6. Digital Employee Experience (DEX)
Digital Employee Experience (DEX) refers to an employee’s experience with the digital tools they use to perform work-related tasks. And there’s a reason why it’s one of the fastest-growing workplace trends.
DEX can influence everything from employee productivity to innovation. In one study, companies with mature DEX programs were 33% more likely to report higher employee satisfaction and 62% more likely to see higher employee retention rates (4).
As we already mentioned, the best way to improve digital employee experience is with employee-centred design. And because HRIS platforms were all designed to be used by HR and leadership teams, they often fall short on DEX.
Frankli, on the other hand, was developed with employee experience at the core of its design. Employees are guided through simple workflows, provided with templates to speed up practices like goal-setting, and sent automated reminders about important meetings and deadlines.
Usability varies from platform to platform, so independent software review sites like G2 and Capterra are really helpful for making direct comparisons on this.
At the time of writing, Frankli holds a five-star rating for ease of use on G2, while just 5% of the 90 HRIS platforms featured have achieved this rating (6).
It’s worth noting that HRIS add-ons aren’t designed for employees to collaborate on complex workflows. Employees tend to use HRIS tools for basic data entry - no more, no less. So completing performance-related tasks via HRIS extensions, for example, filling out a survey, can frustrate employees.
8. People Analytics
HRIS systems are essentially repositories for employee data, so they’re useful for pulling reports on things like employee turnover as well as more traditional metrics like time off used.
Frankli goes a step further, with detailed, real-time, multi-sourced data analytics demonstrating how individuals and teams are performing, as well as the company as a whole. For example, you can quickly see whether 1:1 meetings are being followed up with completed action points, view a detailed breakdown of performance review scores by department, or identify retention red flags from an employee satisfaction survey.
Frankli’s people analytics help you uncover the important links between employee engagement, development and performance to make better, faster decisions.
Every team is different, so the more flexibility your software platforms can offer you, the better.
HRIS platforms are typically very rigid, offering a one-size-fits-all product. This means that each customer is getting the same platform with the same set of tools. Though add-ons are available, they don’t offer the customisation you’ll get with a dedicated performance and engagement platform.
Frankli is unique in that it can be tailored to meet the specific needs of individual customers. Based on 1000s of conversations with customers, Frankli has added the option to personalise key processes like reviews and customise workflows. Functions can also be activated and deactivated to allow teams to launch initiatives at their own pace. So your company’s platform will be totally unique to your teams.
10. Customer Support
Customer support varies from platform to platform, so independent review sites like G2 and Capterra are really helpful for making comparisons on this.
Frankli is rated no.1 on G2 for quality of support, with a 5-star rating (6). The average for HRIS systems is 4 stars.
With Frankli, a performance and engagement expert is always standing by to answer your questions. That’s not the case with an HRIS, where customer support agents are trained to answer questions on more basic HR tasks like payroll and expense logging. They won’t have a thorough understanding of OKRs or the importance of using multiple employee engagement metrics, for example.
11. Data Security
Employee data is obviously a top priority for all HR and leadership teams, and thankfully, Frankli and the best HR management tools all offer a high level of data security.
That said, it’s important to look closely at each platform’s individual security certifications when weighing up your options.
12. Data Hosting
Cloud-based platforms are best for accessibility, scalability, security and cost-effectiveness. And they make it possible to integrate your platform with tools you already use.
Frankli and the top HRIS systems are all cloud-based.
1. Deloitte, Top Findings from High-Impact Performance Management Research. 2. The Anatomy of Work Global Index. 3. Minds and brains of media multitaskers: Current findings and future directions. 4. 1E, The Digital Employee Experience (DEX) Report. 5. HRIS performance, engagement and development tools cost comparison chart. 5. Mixpanel Product Benchmark Report. 6. Frankli on G2