Employee Self Service: Advantages for Your Business?

What is Employee Self Service?

Like the name suggests, employee self service is the name given to software that allows workers to take care of items like changing banking and contact information without going through someone in the HR department. They can often access payroll, personal details and in some cases submit vacation requests too.

If you think your small business can get away with bypassing employee self service software without even a consideration, think again.

Gartner has predicted by 2020, 85% of customer interactions won’t involve a human and this wave of automation already includes employee self service portals.

Here’s what small businesses need to know about this cost saving technology.

Employee self-service is an emerging trend for small businesses that want to streamline or eliminate their HR departments. Beyond the features already mentioned, some of these portals allow employees to change their W-4 data as well as  direct deposit information. There are a host of other options like benefits information as well.

The Advantages of Employee Self Service

There are some advantages to digitizing the employee experience this way. If you sign up with a software program that has a mobile app option, everyone in your company will be able to organize the information they need on the go.

This software option also makes it easier for HR people to skip the mundane administrative parts of their job and concentrate on other things like onboarding new employees.

The Disadvantages of Employee Self Service

Before you go all in with one of these employee self-service platforms, consider the downside. For example, errors have a way of showing up when there’s no one overseeing how the data gets entered and how accurate it is.

There are some upfront costs involved like ramping up your cyber security. Having employees personal information compromised can actually leave your small business accountable legally so you can’t skimp on this feature.

Employee Self Service Tips

User Friendliness  

There needs to be a lot of information in one of these portals but it needs to be easy to read and understand. Navigation is a very important aspect. Start planning the portal with the navigation bar on the landing page because that’s the launch point for your employees.

Since they’re more than likely familiar with websites, you should put your nav bar at the top where they expect it to be. To reduce clutter, consider a drop-down feature from there. Remember that you don’t need to clutter up the website with a lot of information that would just put your employees off.

These drop-down menus are a great way to hide folders behind the landing page. For example, clicking on a “Benefits” tab could lead to the drop-down menu to take employees to the dental or eyeglass benefit folders/pages.

There are a host of other features you need to look at this as a starting point and the one you should funnel all your choices through.

What is Employee Self Service and What are the Advantages for Your Business?

Other Features  

One of the other features that you need to consider for an employee self-service portal is compliance. It’s a good idea to reserve at least part of the website for employee handbooks and tools where they can report acts of discrimination or theft.

Keeping employee files online where you can see them 24/7 is another feature that you’ll probably want to take a serious look at.

Picking the ESS Software

Picking the right software for your small business depends on sorting through several different options. Some, like EmpXTrack will charge a fee per employee per month.

Other models like Zoho People charge per user per month. The other option is for larger small businesses or medium sized companies. There is usually a one time payment here with some tiered options you’ll need to sort through.

What is Employee Self Service and What are the Advantages for Your Business?

Getting Started  

Like everything else when you’re moving from paper to digital records, you should plan a strategy when you’ve decided to set up one of these employee self service portals. You should plan to create an account for each individual employee and give them the login information.

Tell them to go in and check what’s in there once you’ve got the software up and running and make any necessary changes.

You’ll need to walk your employees through the whole process. Having a team meeting is a good idea. Explain what can and cannot be done in the portal. It’s also important to answer any questions they might have.

TopicTips and Recommendations
User Friendliness- Ensure the portal is easy to read and understand.
- Place the navigation bar at the top for familiarity.
- Consider using drop-down menus to reduce clutter.
- Use drop-down menus to hide folders for organization.
Other Features- Reserve part of the portal for employee handbooks.
- Provide tools for reporting acts of discrimination.
- Keep employee files accessible 24/7 online.
Picking the Software- Choose software based on your business size.
- Some charge per employee per month (e.g., EmpXTrack).
- Others charge per user per month (e.g., Zoho People).
- Larger businesses may have one-time payment options.
Getting Started- Plan a strategy for transitioning to digital records.
- Create accounts for individual employees.
- Provide login information and guide employees.
The Advantages- Mobile app options allow easy access on the go.
- Streamline HR tasks, freeing up time for other duties.
The Disadvantages- Errors may occur without oversight of data entry.
- Upfront costs for cybersecurity are necessary.
- Data breaches can have legal consequences.

What is Employee Self Service and What are the Advantages for Your Business?

Employee Self-Service Implementation

Implementing employee self-service software can greatly benefit your small business, but a successful implementation requires careful planning and execution. Here are some key steps to consider:

1. Needs Assessment

Before selecting and implementing employee self-service software, assess your company’s specific needs and goals. Consider what tasks and processes you want to automate or streamline. This will help you choose the right software solution.

2. Software Selection

Research and evaluate different employee self-service software options. Look for features that align with your company’s requirements, such as payroll management, benefits administration, and compliance tools. Compare pricing models to find one that fits your budget.

3. Customization

Once you’ve chosen a software solution, customize it to match your company’s branding and workflow. Ensure that the user interface is intuitive and user-friendly for your employees.

4. Data Migration

If you’re transitioning from paper records or another HR system, plan the migration of employee data carefully. Ensure that all existing information is accurately transferred to the new system to avoid data discrepancies.

What is Employee Self Service and What are the Advantages for Your Business?

5. Training and Onboarding

Provide comprehensive training to your employees on how to use the self-service portal effectively. Create user guides and conduct training sessions to help them navigate the system with ease. Address any questions or concerns they may have.

6. Security Measures

Implement robust cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive employee data. Regularly update and patch the software to prevent security breaches. Ensure compliance with data protection regulations to avoid legal consequences.

7. Continuous Improvement

Monitor the performance of the self-service portal and gather feedback from employees. Use this feedback to make necessary improvements and updates to enhance the user experience.

8. Support and Maintenance

Offer ongoing technical support to assist employees with any issues they encounter while using the self-service portal. Regularly update the software to add new features and improve functionality.

Needs AssessmentAssess your company's needs and goals for self-service software. Identify tasks and processes to automate or streamline.
Software SelectionResearch and evaluate different self-service software options. Consider features aligned with your requirements and budget.
CustomizationCustomize the chosen software to match your company's branding and workflow. Ensure a user-friendly interface.
Data MigrationPlan and execute the migration of employee data from existing systems or paper records to the new software.
Training & OnboardingProvide comprehensive training and user guides to help employees navigate the self-service portal effectively.
Security MeasuresImplement strong cybersecurity measures, update the software regularly, and ensure compliance with data protection regulations.
Continuous ImprovementMonitor portal performance, collect employee feedback, and make necessary improvements for a better user experience.
Support & MaintenanceOffer ongoing technical support and keep the software updated with new features and improvements.

Enhancing Employee Engagement through ESS

Employee Self-Service (ESS) platforms offer a unique opportunity to enhance employee engagement by empowering individuals with control over their personal and professional information.

Beyond the practical benefits of ESS, integrating engagement-focused features can further align the workforce with company goals and values. Consider incorporating elements such as:

  • Recognition and Rewards: Enable employees to recognize their peers for outstanding work directly within the ESS platform. Implement a rewards system where employees can accumulate points for achievements and redeem them for prizes or benefits.
  • Personal Development Plans: Allow employees to set and track their professional development goals within the ESS system. This feature can facilitate discussions with managers about career paths and opportunities for growth.
  • Surveys and Feedback: Regularly engage employees with surveys on their workplace experience, soliciting feedback on everything from company culture to suggestions for improvement. This fosters a culture of openness and continuous improvement.

Conclusion: Transforming HR with Employee Self Service

The adoption of Employee Self-Service (ESS) software marks a transformative step for small businesses in managing their human resources more efficiently.

By empowering employees to take charge of their administrative tasks, businesses not only streamline HR operations but also foster a culture of transparency, autonomy, and engagement.

The advantages of implementing ESS extend beyond operational efficiencies to include enhanced employee satisfaction, reduced administrative burden on HR departments, and improved data accuracy.

However, the journey to implementing ESS requires careful planning, consideration of user-friendliness, and a commitment to maintaining data security. Small businesses must navigate the challenges of selecting the right software, ensuring seamless data migration, and providing comprehensive training to employees.

Despite these challenges, the potential benefits of ESS in creating a more dynamic, empowered, and engaged workforce are substantial.

In the evolving landscape of HR technology, ESS stands out as a tool that not only simplifies administrative processes but also aligns with the broader objectives of enhancing employee engagement and supporting strategic HR management.

As small businesses continue to adapt to the demands of the modern workplace, ESS offers a path towards a more responsive, employee-centered HR model that can drive business success in the digital age.

FAQs: Employee Self Service

What is employee self-service (ESS) software?

ESS software allows employees to manage various HR-related tasks independently, such as updating personal information, accessing payroll data, and submitting vacation requests, without HR department assistance.

Why should small businesses consider ESS software?

ESS software streamlines HR processes, reduces administrative overhead, and empowers employees to manage their information. It can lead to cost savings and improved efficiency.

How user-friendly should an ESS portal be?

An ESS portal should be highly user-friendly with intuitive navigation. The goal is to make it easy for employees to find and use the features they need. Start with a clear navigation bar.

What other features should an ESS portal have?

In addition to basic features, an ESS portal should include compliance tools, employee handbooks, and reporting mechanisms for issues like discrimination or theft. It can also store employee files securely.

How do I choose the right employee self service software for my small business?

When selecting ESS software, consider your budget and the specific needs of your company. Compare pricing models (e.g., per employee, per user) and evaluate available features.

What steps are involved in implementing ESS software?

The implementation process includes assessing needs, selecting software, customization, data migration, employee training, security measures, continuous improvement, and ongoing support and maintenance.

How can I ensure the security of employee data in an ESS portal?

Implement robust cybersecurity measures, regularly update the software, and ensure compliance with data protection regulations to safeguard sensitive employee information.

What are the advantages of digitizing the employee experience with ESS software?

Digitizing employee processes can provide on-the-go access, streamline HR tasks, and allow HR personnel to focus on more strategic activities like onboarding.

What are the potential disadvantages of employee self service platforms?

ESS platforms may introduce errors if data isn’t entered accurately. There can also be upfront costs associated with cybersecurity, and data breaches can have legal consequences.

How can I ensure a successful ESS software implementation?

Success requires careful planning, customization, training, data migration, ongoing support, and continuous improvement based on employee feedback. Tailor the implementation to your company’s unique needs.

Photo via Shutterstock

Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.