A quick look at HR trends for 2016 reveals that the adoption of employee self-service along with mobile accessibility is on about every list. HR departments managing paper employee files are still spending as much as 65% of their time on transactional and administrative work and the workforce is continuing to see a shift in demographics, with an increasing number of digital natives expecting self-service as a part of a company’s culture. With the increasing popularity of these solutions, we wanted to share a few areas organizations should consider when they implement self-service technologies.

Determine efficiency to be gained

Prior to implementation, it’s important to examine your processes and technology to see where the administrative burden can be reduced to make HR a more strategic business partner. From a strictly financial perspective, consider the wasted time and money spent in manually processing HR transactions. Here are manual vs. employee self-serve savings according to CFO.com as reported by Equinox:

TaskManual by HR StaffOnline Employee Self-ServiceSavings
Enroll in Benefit$109.48$27.7980%
Change Contact Info$12.86$3.3974%
Enroll in Training$17.77$4.8773%
Approve a Promotion$48.64$18.2671%
Create Job Requisition$36.89$11.1170%
Change Salary$44.67$18.2659%
Apply for Job$22.31$11.8544%

Also, according to a study by The Cedar Group, implementation of employee self-service reduces costs by $9.00 per employee per month by eliminating manual, paper-intensive processes.

Provide adequate training and access

Access to ESS can be a challenge given the diversity of the workforce. While easy mobile access is increasingly important, and the number of people with computers, email, or a smartphones continues to grow, not all employees have access to them. On the other hand, millennials entering the workforce assume companies will use computer and mobile devices to deliver services. Kiosks in lunchrooms or other areas shared by all employees are certainly an option for those without other access, but security can be an issue. Some organizations opt to maintain existing manual processes for those employees without access and provide employee self-service for employees who do.

Preparing employees for the new process is important. While ESS solutions, like Sage ESS and Sage HRMS HR Actions, are intuitive and easy to use, not everyone will be able to jump in without support. In addition, organizations often have policies regarding training that must be followed. Minimally, you’ll need to develop training manuals and/or instructions to assist employees. Group demonstrations and time for hands-on practice can be helpful. When designing instruction, keep in mind that people have different learning styles. Incorporating them all will contribute to training success.

Address change management

One of the greatest challenges of implementing ESS is helping employees transition to the new system. Those uncomfortable with navigating self-service may view the new technology with suspicion, seeing it only as more work for them. They might miss the old, more personal exchange with HR or payroll personnel. For them, embracing the new process requires a shift in attitude. A switch to ESS needs to provide positive interactions to employees if you want to get them on board. 

They need to know how self-service benefits them and not only how it benefits HR. Along with good training, they also need patient support and reassurance. This is important not only during the introduction phase, but after it as well. A sincere “How’s ESS coming for you?” shows concern for the individual and helps foster a positive attitude.

Employees may mistakenly think that ESS eliminates the accessibility of HR and payroll personnel to answer their questions. During training, stress that HR and payroll always have an open door when it comes to learning ESS. And, while ESS can handle most issues, some will still need individual attention for resolution.

Another issue that affects attitude is the number of features included when first introducing ESS. Starting with a few and adding others after employees are confident using the first set can alleviate negative attitudes. Building on success is always a good plan.

The amount of data displayed can be an area of contention. Many HR professionals prefer employees to have more information to access within ESS, while payroll may see this as a risk. Examining the risks of displaying data is important, but a too-cautious approach with ESS may result in not enough for employees to see or do, significantly diminishing engagement and system quality.

Establish an approval process for changes to employee files

Approvals are an important part of many HRMS workflow actions. As actions are processed in HRMS, they route through the system via a chain of roles based on the workflow matrix. Some actions require manual review, some require approval, and some route directly from the originator to the HRMS through a systems interface. Many actions are completed by doing multiple workflows while others are finalized in one workflow.

Establishing the workflow to automatically create, route for approval, and save data needs to be well thought out. Each process needs to address:

  • Who can originate an action
  • If approvals are needed and by whom
  • What happens if the action/request is denied
  • What happens if an action is stalled in the process
  • What might trigger an alert or warning

Develop information security requirements

There are several security considerations when implementing ESS. Outside of IT securing the corporate intranet and network, employers must also look at a number of other potential security risks:

  • Will the system timeout in the event an employee forgets to logout of a kiosk?
  • Do you want to allow printing of payslips at a communal printer? What risks does this present?
  • Will password reset requests result in more help desk calls?

With pre-implementation planning and post implementation employee support and training, a move to ESS can be a rewarding and beneficial move for both the organization and its employees.

Hands on keyboard with words

The Critical Relationship Between the CEO and Human Resources

In many ways, the economic troubles of the Great Recession have served to shine a spotlight on workforce management issues for many executives, and many leaders found that their organizations were not as nimble or flexible as they would like. Download this white paper on how to help executives make well-informed workforce decisions.

Related Success Stories

Joe Rotella, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Joe Rotella, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Chief Marketing Officer at Delphia Consulting
Joe is a leading thinker and a professional speaker in the areas of HR technology, marketing, and web usability. He is a well-recognized speaker for the Society of Human Resources Management.