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What Is Employee Self-Service and How Can It Increase HR Efficiency?

  • COVID-19
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 07/27/2023

a remote worker using an employee self-service system

Table of Contents

An effective employee self-service (ESS) technology platform may help HR teams focus on more critical aspects of the business.

If your HR team spends a considerable amount of their workday responding to routine employee requests or inquiries around payroll, benefits, and personal information updates, consider how this could be impacting time and resources, as well as burdening them with tasks that can dilute their focus from strategic planning. Maybe the time is right to implement HR self-service tools.

The adoption of an effective employee self-service (ESS) technology platform is one change that may allow HR teams to focus on more critical aspects of the business. An ESS tool may also gain widespread acceptance among employees – whether working remotely, in-office or a mix of both – who increasingly prefer online access to information such as frequently asked questions and benefits and enrollment forms.

What Is Employee Self-Service Technology?

Employee self-service technology makes information and tasks accessible on internet-connected devices enabling employees to perform a variety of HR-related tasks on their own without needing to file paperwork with or even contact HR. Depending on the ESS system, it can handle administrative tasks such as:

  • Benefits enrollment to update and administer changes to benefits plans and track progress with coverage.
  • Performance evaluation documentation to help keep employees on track and accountable.
  • Online training and professional development to offer targeted career growth opportunities and skills development.
  • Time and attendance tracking to enable better workforce optimization and reporting.
  • Generating product reports detailing company contributions to their 401(k) plan and employee use of the ESS portal that can help decision-makers evaluate the technology’s adoption and effectiveness.
  • Routine HR questions and tasks such as updating personal information, payroll preferences and employee access to how much leave they have.

What Are the Benefits of Employee Self-Service Technology for Employers?

The efficiency of ESS technology can be advantageous for HR departments and the business, and allow for a better allocation of resources, faster and more efficient service, and cost savings.

Improved Resource Allocation

Rather than dealing with administrative processes and communicating redundant information, HR professionals can use more time and resources to add insight and expertise to company management. Many HR leaders view their role as a strategic partner more frequently than that of an administrator. Self-service technology can help in furthering HR’s impact on the business.

Faster Service

An ESS portal allows employees to make changes quickly and update personal information (such as their home address) without the need to reach out to HR. Changes can be confirmed on-screen once they are input and received. Sending employee communications can also be quickly disseminated online to ensure prompt delivery. An ESS portal can save HR teams time while giving staff convenience and control.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement levels can have a direct impact on turnover and the company’s bottom line. By empowering employees with 24/7 secure access to their company and personal information, you can help boost the level that employees are actively engaging with the company — which may positively impact retention and productivity levels. Enabling them to complete tasks without the burden of phone calls or paperwork can reinforce a positive culture for the business.

Cost Savings

Using self-service technology may save money on paper and postage for communications that are not required to be delivered in hard-copy form and may reduce administrative costs associated with incoming inquiries.

Improved Communications

ESS technology platforms can speed and ease the dissemination of important communications. Whether it’s benefits management, employee surveys, training, onboarding, or important company announcements, you can quickly and efficiently keep your employees in the loop in a timely way by sending communications direct to their online portal.

What Are the Benefits of Employee Self-Service?

A self-service tool can be especially helpful for organizations with offsite, remote, and hybrid workforces where it might be harder to access physical resources and information. Giving your workers a way to serve their needs and stay informed, regardless of their physical location, can help them feel confident and successful on the job.

How Employee Self-Service Can Increase Efficiency

An effective ESS portal can help your company reduce the workload for HR staff to free them up for other tasks. Moreover, many working individuals have come to expect self-service options to help them manage their compensation and benefits options. With an ESS system, employees typically could:

  • Access pay checks online;
  • View and print federal and state withholding forms;
  • View and update bank account information for direct deposit;
  • Confirm employer-initiated employment status, rate of pay, or other changes;
  • Update personal information such as address, phone number, and other profile details;
  • View federal, state, or local tax withholding information;
  • Access online training materials and other career advancement resources; and
  • Adjust benefits.

An ESS system is also an effective way to make a great impression on new hires, as it can house new-employee information, such as answers to basic questions about pay dates, leave and benefits eligibility.

Potential Challenges to Introducing an Employee Self-Service Tool

The convenience of an ESS may improve worker satisfaction with the company. However, to avoid the perception of disengagement and depersonalization and to encourage employee participation in automated services, businesses must implement self-service thoughtfully.

While user acceptance and system efficiencies can make the transition to ESS well worth the effort, there are certain initial challenges to consider. These being:

  • Cost of information technology resources: The initial costs associated with implementation must be planned and budgeted for in advance.
  • Data protection: When employee data is housed online, data security is paramount. The information must be protected, and employees must feel confident in the system's ability to store their personal data safely.
  • Areas for improvement: When a system is not designed with the end user in mind, it can become difficult to navigate. Errors can arise when employees are familiarizing themselves with new technology. Education sessions for new users, ongoing quality checks, and additional confirmation of benefits selections can help during the initial stages of a self-service tool’s implementation.

Help Employees With the Transition to Self-Service Software

When rolling out an ESS system, remember that some employees may not immediately adjust to accessing documents and information online and may instead feel more comfortable reaching out to HR. Counteract hesitation and maximize adoption by providing workers thorough training on the system and stressing the benefits of immediate access to information, as opposed to waiting for someone to respond to an inquiry. Built-in data analytics can also determine who among your workforce is not using the system or using it incorrectly and may benefit from additional training. If, after implementation, employees still reach out to HR for information available on the self-service portal, consider sending out reminders and offering as-needed training to keep this capability top-of-mind for employees.

The Future of Business and the Role of Self-Service Technology

Ninety-five percent of HR leaders say they plan to invest in technology in the next 12 months to achieve their business, HR, and personal objectives, including ESS. As businesses look toward the future, technology will play a critical role in their business plans. Learn more about the benefits of employee self-service and consider leading HR technologies available on the market today.


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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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