employee self-service

What is ESS?

Employee self-service, or ESS, is an available feature with most modern HRIS. ESS allows employees to take care of many different human resources-related and job-related tasks that would otherwise need to be completed by human resources personnel or management. Employee self-service can help many companies save labor hours and increase efficiency. However, the option may not be right for every company.

Common Features of ESS

Most employee self-service systems allow employees to change personal information such as address, contact information, and banking information – though approval may be needed. Some ESS systems also allow employees to view scheduling and payroll information. Even the most rudimentary self-service systems generally allow employees to submit time off requests and allow managers to approve these requests.

If there are any issues that employees are not authorized to directly change using ESS, some HRIS allow employees to correspond electronically with the human resources department. This allows employees to send messages outside of regular office hours, which saves time and hassle for both employees and human resources professionals.

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Benefits Open Enrollment

Some companies find benefit in using ESS to allow employees to make changes for the benefit of information during open enrollment or when life changes have occurred. Many employees prefer this method, as it allows them to control their own information. This method also allots more time for researching different benefit options without the time pressures that may be present when working with human resource professionals.

Human resources professionals, managers, and employers typically enjoy open enrollment self-service options. Labor time is saved for all parties and the disruption that open enrollment presents to many companies is avoided. Depending on the HRIS and the insurance company, the process of applying may also be simpler and the information provided may be more thorough due to the interactive format.

Determining Whether to Adopt ESS

Large companies in virtually any industry can benefit from employee self-service. Small and medium companies in certain industries may also benefit from ESS. Before investing in the software to enable self-service options, however, companies should weigh the pros and cons and conduct both internal and external research.

Benefits of ESS

When ESS has been successfully implemented, a company may see immediate increases in productivity and efficiency. Managers and human resources personnel may save labor hours and frustration on a daily basis when not faced with working through scheduling issues, time-off requests, and open enrollment questions. Employees may be able to access scheduling and other information from home, which saves employees time and can boost feelings of empowerment.

Additionally, entry errors and other mistakes may be avoided by allowing employees to enter their own information. If recruiting and onboarding are available through the HRIS and directly tie in to the self-service portal, entry errors can be prevented as early as the application phase. By eliminating the need for double entry and allowing employees to evaluate their own information, the chances of inaccurate information may be greatly decreased.

Drawbacks of ESS

The biggest drawback to investing in ESS options is the required amount of time taken to ensure that each employee understands how to use the system. The rollout process can cost a company huge amounts of time and money, thereby taking these resources away from regular operations. ESS must also be used frequently by employees in order for a company to see a benefit from adopting the system.

If employees do not completely understand how to use ESS options, it can create communication gaps. In addition, some employees may attempt to use the new system while others use older systems and manual processes as workarounds, which result in even more hindrances to processes. If a company decides to utilize self-service options for common HR tasks, it is important to make sure that all personnel is on the same page and is ready for the transition before moving forward.

Internal Research

Before purchasing and implementing ESS, employers should find out how frequently employees anticipate using the system. While there may be a certain amount of reluctance to conform to new systems in any workplace, certain factors may hinder employees’ ability to use the system. This, in turn, affects the amount of ROI that the company can expect to see. Doing internal research may also help a company to determine which HRIS would be best.

If most employees do not have internet access at home, purchasing an HRIS that has an emphasis on mobile access can be a waste. It may be possible to purchase kiosks so employees can access the system in-house. Nevertheless, this will dramatically change the expectations for the system and the way that it must be rolled out. If the company is not in the technical field and most employees do not identify as tech-savvy, ESS may not be right for the company.

External Research

Companies should conduct external research to compare HRIS pricing for budget purposes and to figure out the intricacies of implementing an ESS system from several different vendors. Companies may also benefit from doing research to find out how ESS implementation has affected similar companies in the same industry. A vendor matching company may be invaluable when it comes to investigating these factors as it can provide expert advice regarding selection and implementation.

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Authored by: Dave Rietsema