Setting up HR self service in your company: a complete guide

Self service is the way of the modern world: self service gas stations, self service dining, self service (online) banking and shopping… little wonder that we should have self service HR too.

One of the key benefits of providing your employees with direct access to HR processes via technology is that you’re effectively outsourcing responsibility to the person most interested in it – the employee is responsible for his or her own records and information, for booking their own vacation, for accessing their own learning.

When it comes a return on your investment in a new HRMS, self service features are a significant factor.

If you’re looking at self service functionality for your HRMS, the following information covers the key issues, including:


What is employee self service for HR?

HR self service is basically giving employees and managers direct access to relevant HR transactions using technology. Usually, that access if via some kind of online portal. Once logged in, it’s common for users to have their own dashboard of options.

Implement self service successfully with this six-step guide to HRMS self service success

The average employee may simply have access to their own personal record, a time off booking feature, and payroll information, such as paychecks and deductions statements. A manager will have access to all that for themselves and broader information, including scheduling, time and attendance, and performance reports.

In short: enabling your people to handle their own day-to-day HR processes can reduce the workload of your HR team. The benefits of HRMS self service can be summarized as follows:

Better access to services

Self service effectively cuts out the middleman/woman for employees. If they want to check their payslip or benefits package, they simply log in to the system. Moreover, when the portal is accessed via a web browser (as with most or all cloud HRMS) this benefit extends to remote and distance workers too – all they need is a smartphone.

Lower HR costs

Self service is usually an integral part of your HRMS package and so does not in itself represent a huge cost. Furthermore, by accessing services direct, HR staff time is saved.

Increased employee satisfaction

Self service usually has a beneficial impact on employee engagement and similar surveys. Easier access to information means less frustration with the HR team or the organization; it also means a better-informed workforce and more accurate records.

HR becomes more strategic

Remember that time saved for the HR team? That time could be used to reduce the HR headcount, or it can be used on putting your HR resources to more strategic and specialist use.


Which features should you look for in an HR self service solution?

How do you know which self service options to implement in order to get the best return on your investment?

It's a complex question, and the answer will depend on many factors. Still, it's possible to create a basic shortlist by identifying the features you need and targeting only those vendors who offer them. 

Get more feature ideas with this guide to 52 features to look for in your next HRMS

Every company's needs will differ, which is why you should conduct a thorough HRMS requirements gathering exercise before setting your heart on any particular solutions. Nevertheless, there are a core set of features that - it's safe to say - most companies will want when implementing HR self service. These are:

  • Personal records – Not only can an employee see the data held on the system that concerns them, they can update it too – from addresses to name changes to banking details. This means the person with ‘most to lose’ from inaccurate information is now responsible for its accuracy.
  • Payroll – Payroll mistakes always attract the loudest complaints. Even more important then to devolve some responsibility for its accuracy to the individual likely to complain. From viewing paychecks online, to checking tax reports and deductions statements, all the employee’s payroll information is accessible.
  • Scheduling and time off – Traditionally, the manager coordinated the shift schedule or rota and managed vacation bookings for the team. Self service allows team members to view the team schedule and so make requests for changes or time off that are more likely to be granted.
  • Benefits – Self service permits employees to access complex benefits information directly, at a time convenient to them. Whether it’s just viewing the current benefits or comparing packages during open enrollment, direct access makes the process simpler.


Key vendors to consider for HRMS self service modules

Though your requirements will, of course, vary, the following is a short list of vendors offering well-established self service packages. 

Compare more self service solutions with our interactive HRMS comparison tool

  • Workday – a particular strength is the transparency for managers, including cost of employees and current priorities.
  • UltiPro – employee information is available via touchscreen capability for complete convenience and ease of use.
  • Dayforce HCM – prides itself on the intuitive ease of the user experience.
  • ADP – aside from the HR-related functions, ADP’s payroll self service app is an industry leader.


How to manage change during HR self service implementation

People don’t like change

People are naturally resistant to change. All change involves loss – in this case, of the familiar ways of accessing HR services. Even if users are unhappy with those services, it’s still a loss and they’ll react accordingly: with the classic emotional stages of denial, resistance, exploration, acceptance (depending on the model you use, the labels vary but the process is the same).

The key is to move your people through this process to a scenario in which not only is self service successfully implemented but is in everyday use. The ADKAR (Prosci) is a very pragmatic five-stage method for supporting people through change:

  • Awareness – people need to be aware of the reasons for the change, the bigger picture.
  • Desire – people then need to feel motivated to want the change (either because it is so attractive or because the existing situation is unattractive, or both).
  • Knowledge – this is the skills analysis part of the training strategy in implementation, people need the knowledge and skills to be able to use the new system.
  • Ability – knowledge is one thing, be able to apply it is another; people need further support to put their new HRMS skills into practice.
  • Reinforcement – if people are not rewarded for their movement towards the desired change, they are more likely to revert to old methods and patterns of behavior.


Increasing user buy-in for HR self service solutions

The key to HR self service success is getting your employees to use it to its fullest advantage and that depends on persuading every member of the workforce to use it. If users can’t use the system, they won’t use it. Proper training and support is essential if you want your employees to make best use of payroll self service. Here are five selection and implementation steps that will help maximize your usage rate.

1. Communicate the changeover process clearly

If they don’t understand the system and why it’s being introduced then usage levels will likely remain low. Throughout the selection and implementation projects, communicate with users as a key stakeholder group (quite possibly the most influential – it’s the employees who choose to use the system or not). Use emails, bulletins, newsletters, focus groups, consultation surveys, etc. Emphasize the potential benefits while inviting their input.

2. Draw on familiar experiences when designing interfaces

The user experience – what your employees will see on-screen – should be comfortable and intuitive. These days, people are used to banking and shopping online and more. Consider this when designing or choosing your system interface.

3. Incentivize usage of the new system with rewards

Consider offering rewards or incentives for use; e.g. a prize draw for say, store vouchers or a paid day off for anyone accessing particular function, such as benefits enrollment. Effectively, you’re gamifying usage.

4. Restrict access to old systems and processes

People tend to stick to what they know – that’s why change is so difficult. One way of preventing users from ‘backsliding’ into old ways of accessing HR services is to remove those access points. Communicate the role changes, change HR phone numbers, channel calls to a temporary helpdesk that talks users through using the relevant self service option.

5. Rely on peer pressure

There will always be early adopters, people who are enthusiastic about a new system and quickly become experts in its use. Appoint these enthusiasts as your ‘ambassadors’, ready to coach their colleagues in how to make the most of the HRMS self service options.

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall

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