Most businesses are using self-service technology to reduce transactional activities and save time. In the human resource world, this mechanism allows employees to update their address, keep contacts up to date, enroll in the company benefits plan, or otherwise review or change their personal information.
“It’s a tool to help offload those basic tasks from your HR department so they can focus on more strategic initiatives,” says Brian Donovan, Managing Director at IntegreatHR Technologies.
Self-service systems also improve the accuracy of employee data that companies must maintain. Rather than having HR representatives interpreting employee handwriting from forms then keying that data into an isolated system, employees companywide enter their information straight into an enterprise system.
“Employees also appreciate having access to their information and serving themselves,” he says. “It has, in some cases, been a morale booster because they can manage and access their information themselves rather than go through a gatekeeper.”
Smart Business spoke with Donovan about self-service technologies and how they impact businesses.
What does self-service technology look like and how do employees interact with it?
Self-service is a function or feature of whatever technology the company has chosen to run its HR payroll and benefits administration. Employees are typically logging in through a browser, which allows them to access their records while at the office or off-site. There’s a mobile application, or at least a mobile-responsive website, that allows employees to access the appropriate features.
What are the more notable benefits companies can derive from these systems?
Self-service systems can quickly guide employees to the tools and information they seek. This enhances the efficiency of payroll and HR processes, and can allow a company to offer additional services by providing links to external vendors and information.
It can reduce HR expense by cutting the time spent handling routine administrative matters and performing data entry, significantly reducing the amount of paper forms, distribution and processing, and virtually eliminating printing of forms.
These systems allow management to communicate consistent messages to employees on a regular basis, or as needs arise. It provides an unprecedented opportunity to deliver relevant, media-rich information to each person in an organization. Information that was once centralized can now be delivered to everyone in the organization through an HR website without HR intervention.
What size or types of companies stand to benefit most from self-service?
Just about any size workforce can benefit from self-service. Small businesses, for instance, can struggle to keep the detailed volumes of HR information organized and updated. Having fewer resources means carrying a greater workload, so self-service can offload some of that remedial work and allow HR staff to focus more on critical initiatives for the organization.
Larger organizations have so many employees that they need a solution like this in place just to keep up with all the changes and give employees access to information.
What are the keys to effective implementation of self-service?
When considering the implementation of a self-service system, first determine the most critical functions you want to allow your employees or managers to do. That will help you talk with a provider about what will give you the biggest bang for your buck. For example, a HR or payroll manager might be getting 50 requests each week for pay stubs. Instead of fielding each request, those managers could send employees through the self-service portal to retrieve it themselves.
Also, it’s important to have a plan in place to roll out the new technology, communicate its availability and explain why the tools are there.
There are systems with built-in tutorials that can help employees navigate the capabilities. As with any technology, having a good communication and training plan is important.
Insights HR Consulting is brought to you by IntegreatHR Technologies