There’s no denying it – everything that can be automated will be automated. It’s almost 2023, and the world’s well into an era where automation amplifies business impact like never before. After all, automated processes allow human intervention to be used in better, more strategic areas. Employee self-service (ESS) is a perfect example of automation applied to the field of HR. Businesses across the globe are taking HR automation through ESS seriously. Here’s why it could make all the difference in new-age businesses.
What is an Employee Self-Service portal?
The answer is pretty self-explanatory. Routine things such as attendance, work hours, employee data, and so on get managed automatically on the portal by the employees themselves. Consequently, the HR team saves a lot of time and energy on these routine tasks.
ESS portals also act as a one-stop portal for all company documents, knowledge bases, and even onboarding and training resources. The system keeps a ready tab on all necessary HR processes and easily offers data analyses when needed. That’s a lot of time and effort saved!
Benefits of Employee Self-Service Portals
The money and effort saved by using Employee Self-Service are no surprise. But just to get a better understanding of why one should make this investment, here are 11 reasons:
Let’s understand this point at two levels: one, companies often end up over-hiring for the HR teams to perform simple tasks. This cost is not justified, given that these extra employees don’t directly add to the revenue of the business. They’re simply there on the rolls to manage things that shouldn’t need manual management in the first place!
With ESS, an employee can easily fill their personal information directly onto the portal, without someone doing it for them!
At a higher level, ESS allows an HR team to focus on bigger, long-term projects that can amplify the business’ financial health. For instance, instead of answering simple HR queries, teams can focus their efforts on coming up with better employee-engagement plans. Better strategies = more profits.
Better time management
If an HR professional is not spending time on hygiene tasks, they’ll have more time for strategic conversations – it’s just that simple! If a lot of time gets spent on simple tasks, it’s unlikely that there’ll be time to plan bigger things. With this, ideation and execution become more challenging for the HR team.
One of the most important benefits of Employee Self-Service is the reduced – almost nil – chances of errors. HRs have to keep track of a lot of legalities. How often has it been that an employee’s tax details weren’t filed with the authorities? Or a background check was missed?
Well, even if one manages to keep track of all legal formalities, it’s no mean feat. Imagine doing this for more and more employees as the organisation expands. Unfortunately, no matter how much legal data there are to process, one minor error can still land the organisation in a whole lot of trouble with the authorities – no excuses there!
Not only does this burn a big hole in one’s pocket, but it also wastes a lot of precious time. All for a small technicality that could’ve been avoided easily.
Employee Self-Service software may not make things 100% error-free, but it will likely reduce mistakes to almost nil. It’s the employee filling in their details, instead of one HR professional filling in the details of a whole batch of new joinees.
This point can also be explained at two levels. On one, there’s a low workload on the HR team. Let’s say some urgent data on absences over the last six months are needed. Normally, this would require the HR team to stop everything they’re doing and sift through a tonne of data manually. On one hand, they’re stressed about the tasks they’ve just put on hold. On the other, they’re spending time on a very tedious task. Using an Employee Self-Service portal, this can be done instantly.
ESS allows the retrieval of any data needed at any time point. There’s a scenario that better explains this in point #8. The bottom line is, with this, HR professionals are less burdened with boring, gruelling tasks.
At the next level, this improves employee satisfaction. A happier HR team = better employee engagement strategies, superior employee-friendly policies, and better-planned fun activities. Now that’s what we call great ROI!
Accurate time-tracking and payroll
Ask any HR professional and they’ll answer that time-tracking and payroll are two of the most time-consuming HR-related tasks. At the same time, it needs utmost accuracy, too. Any error in time-tracking can lead to errors in pay. And let’s not get into the delay that’s likely to follow!
With Employee Self-Service, an employee applies for leaves, their manager approves, and the leaves are registered. Simple! With this, the manual tracking of leave applications sent through emails, Slack, Whatsapp, or even phone calls is no longer needed. Obviously, the traditional approach has a lot of room for errors. And who has time for that?
Updated employee information
Collecting employee data is hard enough. But a bigger headache is its maintenance. One may think the job’s done once all the data is in – but when are things ever that simple? Data changes all the time – people relocate, go from being single to married and becoming parents, they fall sick, they acquire new skills or certifications.
How can HR professionals keep track of all this? It’s already hard enough to get people to share their existing information for the records. It’s only tougher to expect them to keep updating the information they’ve shared as and when changes happen in their lives.
With an Employee Self-Service system, however,
– employees can update their data without having to get in touch with HR.
– mass reminders for updation can be sent out at once.
– employee accounts can be set to get automatically disabled if data are missing/outdated.
Enhanced data security
HR data are a goldmine of information! The implications of what would happen in case of a data breach in HR are staggering. For instance, manually storing all employee data in a physical file runs many risks – mainly data theft.
When employees join a new workplace, they submit a lot of personal and legal documents that can cause a lot of damage when in the wrong hands. Employee Self-Service systems come with robust security processes. This can save organisations from a lot of embarrassment and devastating negative PR.
Data storage is one of the most sensitive aspects of HR, with a lot of legal and ethical implications. No amount of money is worth risking a loss of reputation due to data-related risks, not to speak of endless legal trouble.
Enhanced communication channels
Picture this – an HR professional is working hard on processing the month’s payments. But just when they get into a core “focus zone”, a new joinee contacts them, asking for some information about the company. Just as they’re responding to the employee, another employee comes in with a whole list of complaints. The issues they’re facing aren’t even urgent, but can an HR tell them that?
By the time they’ve addressed both cases, they’d have already forgotten what they were doing.
Sadly, this is a very toned-down version of what commonly happens in HR departments. Employee Self-Service helps streamline conversations and eliminate chaos. Rather than bombarding the HR team, employees can send their suggestions, complaints, ideas, queries, etc., to the ESS instead. The result? Lesser noise, better resolutions.
Ease of access to data
Let’s assume that the CEO of a firm asks the VP of HR for some data about an existing employee. The VP has to retrieve this information ASAP, without any delays. What would they prefer in such a scenario?
A. Going to the area of the office where employee data is stored, sifting through a bunch of files looking for that employee’s data, noting it down, and then sending it to the CEO?
B. Typing the employee’s name on the Employee Self-Service portal on your phone and getting what you need in an instant?
The obvious choice would be option B. The reason? The sheer convenience of the process.
Improved analytics and reporting
Earlier, we discussed how ESS portals can enable HR professionals to have more bandwidth to work on bigger things. And what better way to focus on bigger than by analysing data?
The sheer amount of data stored by Employee Self-Service portals is one point. But it’s the kind of information these can track that’s the real game-changer. Work hours, age, gender, geographic locations, types of complaints, employee progress, employee skill-set – the list of what organisations can track goes on. There’s no end to the kind of insights one can gain from generating useful reports easily from the portal.
These insights are crucial to make the right business decisions – in this case, HR-related decisions. The chances of wasting resources on the wrong kinds of policies, activities, trainings, etc., are almost nil. You’ll always have a high chance of great ROI on your decisions.
What to consider when choosing an ESS portal?
Now that the pros of Employee Self-Service portals have been discussed, let’s discuss how one can choose the right portal. Here are some questions to ask:
Is it easy to use? The simpler the portal, the better. If the portal needs to adapt to employees successfully, then it’s got to have almost nil friction points.
How much automation does it offer? Well, not just “how much”, but also what kind of automation the portal provides. No ESS portal may offer complete automation. And so, one needs to check what the portal can automate and how much value those features have for the organisation.
Is it easy to integrate? ESS portals that can be installed and integrated into existing assets with minimal effort are ideal in this case.
What kind of support do they offer? Often, companies will sell a product and bid adieu. Well, buying is just 10% of the journey! What one needs is robust post-purchase support as well. So, don’t forget to ask how much support you can expect after purchasing access to the portal.
Congratulations! With this, knowing all about ESS portals and choosing the right one is no longer a challenge.
We saw the difference Employee Self-Service makes to the company in terms of managing data, saving time and money, enhancing communication, keeping things easy, and helping you make more profits.