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Everything you need to know about employee self-service platforms

Editorial Team
01/09/2020 7:38 AM

Most modern companies
operate on self-service. Cloud technology provides a more convenient, consistent,
and safe experience for this. This is good and it opens the reigns of the
workforce - workers and managers alike, and leaves more time to concentrate on
strategic initiatives. Employee self-service which is abbreviated as ESS is a
commonly used Human Resource system that allows workers to perform several
job-related tasks, such as demanding reimbursement, updating personal details
and accessing the information on employer benefits — often mostly paper-based,
or otherwise managed by management or administrative staff. But what exactly is
an employee self-service platform?

What is employee self-service?

There is a good
chance that your organisation is using some form of self-service for employees,
even if you don't call it that. ESS, or Employee Self-Service, is essentially a
way for workers to access different types of HR applications and data directly.
An employee self-service system would provide workers with a reliable,
user-friendly Web site to make requests, manage requests and monitor the status
of requests. At the back end, IT, HR, Finance, Accounting, etc. administrators
will be able to create workflows and guidelines for automatically routing
requests based on several variables, meeting employee demands, and performance

While many point
solutions serve a single department's needs, such as payroll, HR or IT, few
offer the ability to automate all workflows of departmental requests. Employee
self-service platforms are designed from the ground up to provide a specific
customisable application framework for quickly creating self-service
applications for employees and demanding workflows that suit the way you are
already working. This is part of the program open to all the staff, not just HR
professionals. Employees can access the information on their salaries,
schedules and benefits, upgrade to their records, and more. The transformation
of organisational cultures needs the creation of HR programs, too. Although
this may sound like a no brainer, HR systems have taken a long time to develop
from the piecemeal manual approach that has been used for decades. The Human Resources
Information Systems world is now making fast strides towards a more rational
and effective method with the implementation of self-service Human Resources Information

Types of information employees can access via employee
self-service platforms

There are several
different kinds of information that employers can choose to make available via
an employee self-service platform. Here are only a few examples:

  • Detailed personal data and
    contact information. Normally workers may use the site to change such items as
    their mailing address or phone number.
  • Payroll records including past
    pay stubs, descriptions of tax deductions, accumulated sick time and the like.
    Many programs require workers to use the platform to request changes, such as
    tax deductions or changes to direct deposits.
  • Time-conservation files.
    Employees who monitor working hours are generally allowed to access it here.
    Many programs also require workers to use the platform to file requests for PTO
    or other leave.
  • Company policies and
    procedures, and/or a complete company manual.
  • Benefits information including,
    in certain situations, the option to participate directly from the site in some
    forms of benefit programs. For example, this may be where workers go to choose
    their health benefits during open enrolment.
  • Employee development plans could
    also be incorporated. These implement workforce growth programs.
  • Employee or travel costs can be
    integrated as well as reimbursement (and recording of such).

How does an employee self-service work?

An employer may
set up some sort of portal for workers, which can be accessed either through an
employee username and password on the internet or via the software selected by
the firm. It is mostly applied as one component of a broader information
framework about human resources or another HR program. Self-service for workers
is also offered via the employer's intranet or database. This can also be part
of broader human capital management (HCM), corporate resource planning (ERP) or
benefit management applications, often delivered via SaaS platforms. Self-service
software for workers, once marketed as a stand-alone app, is now widely
integrated into more robust HR tech systems.

Employee self-service
systems for workers are designed for company users. Create templates, add rules
for the workflow, post them to the employee portal, and now they're usually
accessible from any computer to anyone 24/7.

Source: Integrify

Employees use these
simple employee request management system to construct a large array of
self-service portals that handle a wide range of cross-departmental requests:

  • Capital expense requests
  • Contract approvals
  • Leave of absence requests
  • Site selection approvals
  • Pricing discount requests
  • New hire requests
  • Vacation time requests
  • IT project requests
  • Logo and branding approvals
  • New product requests

self-service technology in an increasingly competitive employee talent market
is helping to create a positive work culture and retain talent by giving
workers direct control over their employment information. Employee self-service
systems on social media-like sites are gradually being designed for phones, and
are also part of broader employee engagement initiatives, which may include
wellness services, acknowledgement, learning management systems, and corporate
social events.

Features of an employee self-service platform

Features of an employee self-service
platform include:

  • Payroll capabilities, such as
    online access to pay stubs, the ability to change tax withholding and deduction
    amounts, and logging work time and hours;
  • The ability to shop for and
    choose benefit programs and manage open enrolment and other changes, such as
    major life events;
  • The ability to make changes to
    retirement investment plans, such as changing employee contributions, setting
    up loans and making withdrawals;
  • Expense management;
  • Business travel management.

The benefits of an employee self-service platform

software for workers and managers enables users to request, record, view,
approve and execute activities with workflow approvals. The following are some
of the benefits of an employee self-service platform:

  • It reduces admin time
  • It speeds up the HR operations
  • Providing workers with easy
    access to printing their documents will cut workplace costs. It is because only
    workers who truly appreciate the paper copy and need it would be willing to
    print it, thus saving the cost of printing and delivery. It is just one example
    of how an ESS can help an organisation become paperless on the way.
  • It ensures continuity and
  • It keeps employee records safe
    and updated
  • These portals can be customised
    to extract data from multiple sources, allowing employees to find payroll
    information, policy information, development info, training info, and more —
    all in one place.
  • It empowers the workforce
  • Employees can access the
    network at any time, without needing to wait for others to assist. However, if
    their request ultimately needs assistance, they can, at their convenience,
    complete the first step.
  • It enables employees to request
    leave directly in the system
  • Employees can feel more
    satisfied at work if they feel they have more power and better access to
    information of this kind.
  • It allows supervisors to retain
  • It improves employee
  • Allowing direct access for
    staff ensures they are more likely to check the information and fix something
    incomplete or in error.

Managers and staff
with human resources will save working hours and stress regularly if they are
not overwhelmed with work by scheduling problems, time-off demands and open enrolment
queries. Workers can have access from home to schedules and other information,
which saves time for employees and can raise confidence feelings. Also, errors
in the entry and other errors can be avoided by requiring workers to enter
their information. If recruitment and on-boarding are available via the Human Resource
Information System and connect directly to the self-service portal, entry
errors can be avoided as early as the application process. The risks of
incorrect information can be significantly reduced by removing the need for
double entry and empowering workers to determine their information.

Downsides to using an employee self-service platform

There are also
some potential downsides to using employee self-service platforms which

  • It could be technologically
    challenging to truly integrate multiple platforms, especially if all of the
    information comes from disparate locations.
  • Getting an employee
    self-service platform is just another thing that workers need to be educated
    on. The training can be more intensive for so many different facets of the
    program than certain other types of software, even though each segment is fairly
  • It also has to manage both
    processes. It is always valid, of course, but more than ever if at all times
    workers deserve 100% reliable and updated details. This may mean additional
    administrative pressure.

The biggest
downside to investing in employee self-service platforms options is the amount
of time taken to make sure that every employee knows how to use the program.
The rollout process can cost a company enormous amounts of time and money,
taking away these resources from regular operations. Employees will need to use
employee self-service regularly so an organisation can see a benefit from
implementing the program. When workers don't fully understand how to use the employee
self-service platform choices, communication gaps may be created. Additionally,
some workers may continue to use the new system and others may use older
systems and manual procedures as workarounds, resulting in even greater process
hindrances. If a company decides to utilise 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.

How to design an employee self-service platform for your

Consumers are now
increasingly familiar with 'self-service' ideas, such as flight check-ins,
hotel reservations or simply ordering a choice meal from one's favourite
restaurant, in both private and professional functionalities. In line with the
above, the majority of a company's support departments-Facilities Management,
IT, and HR-have incorporated self-service systems into their core structure to
help workers navigate key facilities, processes, programs, or resources, easily
over the web or through mobile devices. However, to maximize the true market
interest of self-service models for employees effectively, one needs to look at
these five critical starting points:

Keep it Simple, Silly or KISS

Remember it's
always the first step to consider the target market. Most workers don't speak a
back-office specialist's nuanced, technical jargon, so they often don't know
the underlying meaning behind these demands. Therefore, workers need an
easy-to-use self-explaining resource that carries only the necessary action. Through
putting together various departments such as FM, HR, and IT into a centralised
and cohesive self-help
platform for workers
, a convenient and secure point of contact can be
provided with any request for assistance or help. This simplifies the method as
a whole, reducing the number of portals or solutions, allowing greater

Make it look 'Nice'

It is key-workers
need to find a reason to use and use a self-service platform or mobile app
regularly while ensuring a personal gain from the same. Recently, Paycom
unveiled a completely revamped ESS app, based on enhanced CX. How does one do
this? By providing content, data, and a rich and interactive Dashboard. Relevance
can be built up by analysing past habits such as requested services, or
demographics such as work functionalities or gender. Once an employee has
booked a particular function several times it should appear in the selection
list more prominently.

Don't forget to follow-up

To make
Self-Service a valuable and effective tool for both employees and businesses,
an end-to-end connection will include regular and continuous monitoring of any service
request. By unifying these processes into a single solution, one can map
service levels, pre-empt possible escalations, and boost multi-stakeholder
communication. Employees may use Self-Service to check the current status of an
application, review the expected delivery times, and also better determine the
job scenarios of the program. Upon completion of the order, an integrated
self-service platform enables one to verify the standard of the service
rendered, with feedback forms and automated surveys.

Always spread the good word

When people are
not aware of the Employee Self-Service solution's nature, it is possible they
won't ever use it. Explain the reasons behind its creation, its ways of using
it, and its many advantages-across as many channels as possible (newsletters,
social media, internet, email, posters and the like, helping to communicate
portal uses and ease of access, including employee feedback, suggestions, and
ideas. For the first time, if you are launching a mobile-friendly platform such
as MenaME-Plus,
the steps of knowledge and feedback become all the more relevant to ease the

Ensure there's a balance between all your channels

self-service is now a proven concept for facilities management, IT or HR
management, offering greater accessibility to service and increased efficiency
in processing and delivery. Does this, therefore, render Employee Self-Service
a 'one-size-fits-all' model, which can be extended to any situation or
requirement? The answer is No. Employee self-service is intended for regular
and standardized processes which do not require special or sustained
involvement or complex tasks to be completed. That is why the actual service
desk, telephone calls or especially human experiences can never be fully

These are the five
overarching principles which drive or direct the implementation of Employee
self-service. Although most organisations are building their programs on these,
it is wise to tweak each of the five according to your organisation's
particular strategies or needs and its key value proposition. Having
self-service work for workers should be a priority for the company but it needs
to be enforced by more than one department to do so. HR managers and
administrators from other departments need to work together to make use of
workers as efficient and widespread as possible.

Kudzai Derera is a
Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and
human resources consulting firm.

LinkedIn: https://zw.linkedin.com/in/kudzaiderera

Phone: +263 242

Email: kudzai@ipcconsultants.com   

Main Website: www.ipcconsultants.com

Editorial Team

This article was written by one of the consultants at IPC

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