Over the past two decades, employee self-service (ESS) has evolved to take on many different forms. Advances in technology, particularly in regard to process automation, user experience (UX) and mobile apps, have made it possible for ESS to provide the modern, specialised and intuitive solution needed to meet the complex HR needs of large organisations.
In the fast-moving, ever-changing world of HR – especially one that has been drastically affected by the COVID-19 outbreak – there’s a strong case for ensuring your organisation is using the best possible ESS system. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at five key reasons why.
1) Building a stronger employee experience
Creating a stronger experience for your employees is undoubtedly one of the primary benefits of ESS – after all, it’s in the name! But how exactly does it do this?
First and foremost, it allows them to assert greater control over everyday HR activities, such as booking leave, claiming expenses, and reviewing their payslips. It can be incredibly frustrating for employees to be restricted in which activities they can and can’t process independently, since it causes delays, increases the chance of errors, and damages productivity when they’re forced to ask their managers to process and authorise various requests which could otherwise be done in minutes.
A self-service portal also supports employees by bringing everything together in one convenient place, including pay and reward, benefits, learning and development, and expense management. All too often organisations rely on a number of disparate systems for different HR requests and this creates an inconvenient and siloed experience.
On the theme of convenience, it’s becoming increasingly important for employees to be able to manage their activities flexibly. In other words, as we move towards the consumerisation of HR technology, a quality mobile experience is a must. Sooner rather than later, employees will start to expect a standard of user experience on par with that provided by Netflix or Amazon.
2) Reducing admin for HR teams
At its core, the HR function has always been about engaging, developing and supporting people. There are few HR professionals who would advocate for making admin a greater part of their role, and yet for many it feels like an unavoidable reality without the right technology in place.
Employee self-service is a prime example of technology that can drastically reduce the amount of admin that the HR team has to process on a day-to-day basis. It effectively removes HR as the middleman between an employee and their managers, so that more time can be put back into the activities that really add strategic value.
Despite HR professionals’ concern that automation could replace them, a sophisticated ESS system allows them to concentrate on the aspects of effective people management that technology can’t yet easily replicate, such as implementing innovative and inclusive workplace policies, supporting employee wellbeing, and enriching company culture.
3) Improving the accuracy and quality of people data
‘Data’ could well be the single most important word in the world of business today. In recent years, organisations have come under immense pressure to improve how they collect, store, share, protect and use data. And which function consistently represents one of a company’s biggest and most important sources of data? That’s right, the HR function.
Along with a range of other technologies, ESS plays a vital role in improving how you manage HR data. Fundamentally, it helps your organisation to establish a single source of truth about its people, eliminating the data silos that would be created by using a number of separate systems. This means that analytics are based on a comprehensive and consistent data set – and that important business decisions made as a result are well-founded.
On top of this, ESS helps to improve the accuracy of the data, because employees are held accountable for making sure all of their essential information is kept up-to-date. After all, why rely on the HR team to make these changes – potentially increasing the chance of errors – when employees themselves are best positioned to get it right the first time?
4) Sharing organisational knowledge
In large businesses in particular, it can feel like a real struggle to access key organisational knowledge. You often have to rely on a colleague having the right information to share with you or, at the very least, to point you in the right direction. And, with many employees working remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak, effective knowledge sharing is paramount.
With an ESS system, it’s possible to electronically store all of your HR documents – from your benefits guide, to your Code of Conduct, to various workplace policies – in one place so that employees have unhindered access to information when they need it. It’s also possible to build organisational charts into the system, which are extremely helpful when it comes to understanding how the business is structured and which people fulfil certain roles.
This is yet another example of how ESS helps to streamline key HR activities, thereby improving productivity for both employees and HR managers.
5) Saving on unnecessary costs
Last but not least, organisations which use an ESS system realise a return on investment through cost savings. These costs savings come in a variety of forms, but the most notable are:
- The cost of working time spent on HR administration, including answering employee queries and fixing problems
- The cost of hiring and employing additional HR administrators
- The cost of printing physical copies of HR documents
Time to re-evaluate employee self-service?
Employee self-service may not be classified as a ‘new’ development in HR technology, but it’s continuing to evolve in order to help tackle key HR challenges. For many organisations, it may be time to consider whether their current ESS system is keeping pace with changing employee and manager expectations.
PwC’s HR Technology Survey 2020 revealed that 74% of HR decision makers forecast an increase in their technology spending over the next two years, with 48% saying that improving the employee experience will be a major reason behind this, and 45% saying the same of process automation. So, for those HR leaders looking at areas to invest in this year and beyond, ESS – and the benefits it offers in these areas – is certainly worthy of consideration.