6 min read

HR Tools for building your HR Stack

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Alexis Croswell

Senior Content Marketing Manager, Culture Amp

In the world of software-as-a-service (SaaS), new tools for HR leaders become rapidly available and current software is always cutting-edge. While this is exciting and useful, it can be overwhelming to wade through the breadth of options available to HR leaders.

Culture Amp’s People Operations Manager, Stacey Nordwall, has been shaping our HR stack for the past two years. We’ll share insights from Nordwall on how to evolve your HR stack along with an example HR Stack from the people team at Vend. We’ve also provided a brief guide to leading HR tools that you can use to help build your HR stack.

How do you choose your HR Stack?

The first step should be sitting down and assessing your company’s needs and resources. Understanding what you need a platform to do for you and how much support you need from the service provider, as opposed to what you can do in-house, will be a critical first step in making a decision.

As Nordwall says, “You will want to assess what information you need to receive from these platforms and what kind of reporting you need to do. To a certain extent, the utility of the platform is only as good as the data you can get out of it. You should also think about how or if the platforms integrate together. You want to minimize the number of data entry points you have to maintain otherwise data integrity can be difficult.” Lastly, the HR community is a trusted resource in your search. “Seek out feedback from other HR professionals to understand what kind of experience they and their employees have on the platform, as well as what their pain points are,” explains Nordwall.

How do you know when it’s time to evolve your HR Stack?

Generally you will know when it is time to move on. Nordwall says this moment arrives when your system begins to feel more like band aids and bootstraps than a well-oiled machine. "If you are having to find creative ways to get what you need from a platform, it might be time to move on," she says. Similarly, if the platform can no longer provide you the service or functionality you need, it is time to dig out the research and recommendations you had from your initial reviews, and think about your next evolution.

The HR Stack at Vend

For Penelope Barton and Jordyn Riley at Vend, creating an integrated HR Stack is an important component of running a successful people analytics strategy. “Culture Amp forms the basis of our people analytics strategy, but we also use a number of other tools, and we truly believe that HR tech is changing the way that HR teams can use data in companies around the world,” says Barton.

Vend's mix of HR tools helps inform their strategy because the components work together through integrations, or by exporting and correlating data. As Riley says, “When all of this information comes together it can make for a compelling story about what's actually going on in your organization. You can see what areas need to be improved on, and what's making a real difference to your workforce.”

Here are the HR tools Vend uses to support their people analytics strategy: 

  • BambooHR - Houses employee information and demographics
  • Culture Amp - Platform for surveys and analytics on employee engagement, employee experience and employee effectiveness.
  • 15Five - Facilitates regular 1:1 conversations between managers and employees
  • Greenhouse - Applicant tracking system for recruiting
  • Payscale - Pay system which allows Barton and Riley to benchmark salaries to market and tailor each role down to specific skills

With the advice from Nordwall, Barton and Riley in mind, we invite you to review the selection of vendors below in combination with your industry research for your HR stack. 

Guide to HR Tools for your HR stack

Recruiting and Onboarding

For your organization to succeed, you need to find and hire the right people. HR SaaS tools can make it easier to recruit qualified applicants and create a delightful onboarding experience.


Offering Lever Hire as their standard collaborative recruiting platform, they also offer Lever Nurture to make proactive sourcing more timely and efficient.


Greenhouse is an applicant tracking system and recruiting software for growing teams. They recently acquired Parklet, and now offer Greenhouse Onboarding to support new hires.


While their onboarding offering is currently in a private beta stage, Donut offers a unique way for employees (new and old) to get to know each other. Through a simple Slack integration, people are paired up for conversations and inter-office communication is enhanced.  


From preboarding employees, to creating automated workstreams for new hire onboarding, Sapling helps teams get started on a solid foundation. 

Learning and Development  

An important part of keeping employees engaged at work is providing exceptional learning and development opportunities. HR tools can help you provide different learning and development opportunities to your people that are customized for the individual.  

Udemy for Business

Udemy for Business provides employees with high-quality courses on an interactive corporate learning platform. People can choose from courses on topics like IT and software, human resources, finance and accounting and more.


Known for their simple, on-demand courses, Jhana provides bite-sized training for people leaders. They combine scholarly research with interviews from their own panel of experts to create their offering of articles, videos and worksheets.


Hickory is built to predict when employees are likely to forget their training, and follow up with the appropriate material to review in a timely manner. With a focus on learning for customer-facing roles, Hickory aims to help companies create a consistent experience for customers.

Payroll and Benefits

Paying your people and providing them with health and other benefits shouldn’t be daunting. HR SaaS tools for payroll and benefits aim to make administration easy for companies at any size.


Gusto offers payroll, benefits and HR tools for small to mid-size companies. They have many integrations with popular accounting software like FreshBooks and QuickBooks Online, as well as time tracking software.  


No longer just a place for employees and employers to research market rates for roles, Payscale now offers an in-depth HR tool. Payscale Insights gives organizations the ability to track and analyze their compensation strategy with fresh salary data.


Since 2013, Zenefits has been providing payroll, benefits and more to small and mid-size organizations. They’re growing to offer more HR tools with a new CEO leading the company.

Human Resource Information System (HRIS)

Your HRIS is where it all comes together - it’s the system of record for people at your organization. New tools are providing support for people teams while also acting as a service portal for employees.


BambooHR is an HRIS for small to mid-size companies built to track HR information, such as personal data, PTO, employee training, job responsibilities, benefits, contact information, hiring checklists, documents and more.


Namely offers “HR for Humans” with tools for the modern HR professional spanning benefits, payroll, talent and more.  


An enterprise HRIS solution, Workday offers finance, HR and planning tools for HR teams. With robust tools for finance management as well, you can customize your Workday offering.

Employee Feedback

Understanding what drives the engagement of people at your organization helps inform every people-related decision you’ll need to make. Providing people with a place to give feedback to peers helps guide personal development.

Culture Amp

As the world's most powerful employee feedback and analytics platform, Culture Amp provides a platform to help HR leaders measure employee engagement, experience and 360° feedback.


Recognizing employees on a regular basis is made possible with the use of HR tools for recognition.


Rewarding employees with experiences through Blueboard is easy and exciting. They offer customized experiences for anniversary awards, sales incentives and anything else companies want to recognize people for.


As a tool for external recognition of your brand and employee sentiment, Glassdoor reigns supreme. Candidates use Glassdoor to view company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary information, interview question and reviews, benefits information and even photos of the company office. All of this information is submitted by employees, so it’s trusted as a non-biased source of information. They also offer opportunities for companies to promote their employer brand to interested candidates.

Maintaining the right HR stack over time 

As Nordwall explains, choosing the “right” HR tech stack is an evolutionary process because what you need changes as you grow. What works for you as a company of 50 might break as a company of 500. What works for a company with a traditional organizational structure might be difficult for a company using a contemporary organizational model. As Barton and Riley say, “There is a tool out there to help you with everything, provided you have accurate employee information.”

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