Total Business Magazine

What Is Employee Self-Service and How Does It Work?

Technological developments march on at pace in the HR world, with the introduction of employee self-service (ESS) dramatically altering the way in which both employees and managers operate.

ESS, usually accessed via an online portal or app, can speed up processes, optimise efficiencies and offer greater visibility, but for those companies still operating with entirely manual procedures, the prospect of a digital transformation can seem daunting. So how can business leaders successfully transition to an ESS model? Eman Al-Hillawi, principal consultant and Tamara Pleasant, senior business analyst at business change consultancy Entec Si, explain for Total Business.

Employee self-service enables employees to carry out a number of HR processes, such as checking and updating personal information and booking leave. Payroll information is often included, enabling employees to access electronic payslips and other key documents such as P60s. Wider functionality can also be available, such as reporting sickness absence, claiming overtime and expenses and coordinating appraisals.

By offering employees the ability to view and update their own information, ESS models can bring a whole host of benefits. The greater visibility afforded to managers can help to promote a stronger ownership of data, as well as an audit trail meaning the data is more likely to be accurate. This provides the business with greater understanding of both their employees and their costs and is therefore vital to compliance with duty of care rules and recent gender pay and equal opportunities legislation.

ESS models can also increase overall productivity whilst decreasing costs across the board. For instance, instead of having to print and send paper payslips, employees simply access key documents from the portal. Similarly, leave can be requested and approved at both the employee’s and the manager’s convenience, without the need to even be in the office. This can help to support remote working, which is becoming a crucial asset when enticing potential new employees.

ESS models can also increase overall productivity whilst decreasing costs across the board. For instance, instead of having to print and send paper payslips, employees simply access key documents from the portal.

For businesses using outdated, manual systems, a transformation could be the perfect opportunity to implement further business changes. For instance, different employees may be on different terms and conditions depending on when they joined the organisation, and existing policies and processes could be inconsistent. By reviewing the current state and agreeing improvements before implementation, organisations can update their systems and streamline their processes. The quality of this information is vital – if it is out of date or inaccurate, it could provide a serious barrier to success down the line. Therefore, it is recommended that employees are involved at the earliest opportunity in order to ensure that all necessary data is gathered.

However, the move to an ESS model can be overwhelming. With this in mind, it is advisable for business leaders who are considering a transformation project to begin by producing a thorough cost/benefit analysis. This often shows that the system would not only be beneficial but also important in securing future efficiencies throughout the business.

People are an organisation’s most valuable asset, so communication with both employees and managers will be critical throughout the project. Individuals can be resistant to the introduction of new and more auditable policies and procedures, especially if this involves sensitive HR and payroll information. For this reason, businesses should ensure that time is factored into the project to allow for thorough planning, as well as to ensure that any concerns or legacy issues are dealt with before the transition begins. Similarly, employee and manager training will also be a vital part of the change process, as it should not be assumed that all employees and managers will be able to use self-service without training and guidance.

Undertaking a transformation to an ESS model may seem challenging at first, however it increasingly crucial for businesses to stay ahead of the curve and embrace the digital world. By doing so, they can reap the benefits of efficient and more proactive processes, reductions in costs and increased employee satisfaction.

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