7 Ways HR Self-Service Can Help Your Company

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HR departments – your company can’t function without them. But too often they spend time on mundane admin tasks rather than as a key strategic player in the organization. Enter HR self-service, a common component of HR Software that lets employees handle HR-related tasks themselves, reducing administrative overhead for HR professionals. Read on for a full breakdown of this vital HR tool.

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Benefits of HR Self-Service

What is HR Self-Service?

Commonly referred to as employee self-service (ESS), HR self-service refers to a feature provided by the vast majority of HR solutions that allows employees to access their own documents and details via a portal. ESS lets employees take responsibility for their development and job-related tasks, which otherwise has to be taken care of by the HR department, saving you time and money. Employees are able to transact with their human resources office to check compensation and PTO requests, review timesheets, update benefits enrollment and more. Many solutions have a mobile app that offers self-service so users can complete tasks remotely.

Why Is Employee Self-Service Important ?

Evolving corporate cultures require that HR systems evolve, too. It took a long time for HR solutions to outgrow the fragmented, manual process used for decades. But the HR world is now rapidly shifting towards a more productive and efficient system, and HR self-service plays a pivotal role in that advancement.

Today, businesses around the world are part of a global ecosystem and competitive arena. Brands are battling with each other to sustain customer loyalty and deliver the best in products and services, while at the same time seeking to deliver that same level of experience internally. Much has been said about the employee experience and the vital role it plays in driving a company’s success.

HR self-service aids that goal. ESS simplifies some of the most basic and time-consuming HR tasks, providing numerous benefits for both employees and managers. Consolidating information into one user-friendly interface promotes efficiency and helps employees align with organizational goals. Productivity improves as employees spend less time looking for the information they need. Furthermore, employee satisfaction increases due to coordination and communication across the organization.

Features of Employee Self-Service

A wide range of HR operations that were previously performed via a paper transaction or a number of online solutions can now be handled with a single gateway. Let’s look at a few examples.

HR Self-Service Features

Time and Attendance

Time and attendance tools are increasingly seen as more than just a way to track employee hours or to stay compliant with hour and wage regulations. They’re also required to address the needs of a mobile staff and leveraged for labor cost reporting. With information accessible via ESS, employees are able to monitor their own attendance and verify their hours for payroll processing. In case of discrepancy, employees may request corrections. Once managers approve the request, the system automatically updates the attendance data.

Data collection through ESS portals and mobile apps enables the system to display time and attendance data in real time, allow users to punch in and out from anywhere and alert managers when employees enter overtime or alter their attendance routines. Employees can log on and view their work schedules, check time cards or place vacation requests.

Online HR Documents

HR self-service lets employees upload documents or change personal data. Users can access the documents and conveniently organize records for each employee. ESS also provides a central place to publish policy documents and updates.

Benefits Enrollment

ESS streamlines the open enrollment process by enabling employees to make their estimates and selections based on employer-provided options. Employees have the ability to browse and pick benefits programs, manage open enrollment, and make changes for major life events.They can also adjust retirement investment plans, such as changing employee contributions, setting up loans and making withdrawals.


Giving employees the ability to view and print payslips reduces the HR burden of printing and handing over hard copies, and many solutions offer direct deposit to completely bypass physical records. Employees can also change tax withholding and deduction amounts.

Alerts and Notifications

HR, managers and employees can receive notifications and alerts for shift changes, birthdays, upcoming holidays and more. Managers can easily notify employees about frequent shift changes so everyone’s on the same page.

Employee Training

In recent years, there has been a great deal of discussion about the skills gap. SHRM found that “75% of HR professionals who reported difficulty in recruiting say there are skill gaps in job candidates,” per their Skills Gap 2019 report. Providing training is one of the top ways to address this issue. Organizations are increasingly focusing on employee development through eLearning. Many ESS portals enable employees to access a learning management system module or integrated solution so they can work through assigned courses, participate in group learning, study for certifications and more.

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What Can You Do With Employee Self-Service?

In a self-help world, HR self-service gives employees greater access to and control over information, while freeing up more time for managers and increasing their visibility.

An employee can use HR self-service to:

  1. Clock in or out and view that data in real time
  2. Request PTO
  3. View attendance data that goes into payroll
  4. Request a correction to attendance data
  5. Check work schedule or shift plans
  6. Share documents with HR
  7. View company policies and other shared documents
  8. Access training materials
  9. Submit income tax declarations and verify income tax calculation
  10. Participate in performance appraisals

Manager self-service (MSS) allows managers to perform tasks online that previously required the assistance of HR personnel. A manager can use HR self-service in the following ways:

  1. View employee attendance
  2. Modify work schedules
  3. Access employee profiles
  4. View real-time clock in or clock out data
  5. Approve PTO requests
  6. Approve attendance corrections proposed by staff
  7. Send and receive birthday or anniversary notifications
  8. Get rid of paper approvals
  9. See employee availability in real time
  10. Track team and individual metrics with reports

Benefits of Employee Self-Service

Improve Employee Satisfaction

Employees today want more control over their careers. By giving them direct access to information about their tasks, training and advancement opportunities, you allow them to be in the driver’s seat of their own path to performance. The more control employees have, the less time they spend asking about internal programs and the more likely they are to be invested in the company.

Save Time

Routine HR administration tasks that drain time and energy from your HR team or management, such as hours spent generating replacement pay stubs or sending benefits updates, can be devoted to other important things. ESS allows companies to distribute key information about compensation, policies and benefits quickly to the entire workforce. And with a self-service portal in place, HR can focus on strategic business partnership activities, new training plans, talent acquisition and other initiatives.

Some HR platforms include an internal knowledge base of information where employees can go to find quick answers instead of waiting for someone to research and provide them with what they need. And as AI has entered the scene, it’s also begun playing a more central role in HR service delivery, providing automation of previously manual tasks.

Ensure Data Accuracy

In a world driven by data, the BI tools offered through a self-service portal turn an HR database into a predictive tool. You can look within your organization to find employees with the needed skills and experience to tackle virtually any project. This allows you to better mobilize your employees to meet the needs of a rapidly changing economy. In addition, employees’ ability to update their personal information eliminates data entry errors to ensure the information fed into the analytics tool is accurate and up to date.

Conduct Compliance Reporting

Government laws and regulations such as EEO, FMLA, and OSHA require significant reporting requirements. Each department has the information they need to meet goals, identify workflow bottlenecks and improve performance. By giving managers the same access to information as the HR department, you allow them to generate internal reports quickly and easily, reducing errors and avoiding penalties. Most systems often track and process reports in the appropriate format and provide legislative updates.

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Recruit Faster

Did you know that 43% of new hires leave a job because it wasn’t what they were expecting? The cost of turnover is incredible, and filling positions with the right person can be time-consuming. Gen Z looks for more than just salary. You need to engage candidates in other areas that matter to them if you want to end up with a happy hire who’s less likely to leave.

One way to do this is to look inward when sourcing talent, offering current employees access to online job placement opportunities so you can leverage your internal workforce to fill vacancies. Not only will they be more likely to apply for a job, but they are also more likely to refer a qualified candidate. This can help eliminate hours spent pouring over resumes and days scheduling interviews.

Manage Expenses

HR self-service allows employees to submit expense reports online and streamlines processes by providing access to approvals and reimbursements 24/7, including posting receipts and handling expenditures while traveling.

Streamline Communication

One of the most critical tasks for your HR department is to handle holiday and PTO requests as well as maintain correct attendance records. An HR system with ESS centralizes team, department and company-wide communication, enabling everyone to easily stay in the loop.

In addition to what we’ve covered in previous sections, you can pinpoint trends, find out who’s available to cover a shift and make requests for documents like experience certificates or new hire forms. This results in easier communication and transparency among employees, managers and HR team.

Making ESS Effective

Having an HR self-service capability by itself isn’t enough. It’s important to leverage it correctly to achieve true business value.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Making ESS Effective

Keep It User-Friendly

The most important factor in user adoption is how easy the system is to use. An HRM self-service portal that’s outdated, clunky and confusing will do more to hurt your effort than help it. Look for a system that offers a portal with a clean, intuitive UI, logical button placement and icon usage, familiar wording, and obvious navigation. Some products even have an in-platform wizard to guide users through the various capabilities so they can easily familiarize themselves with the layout.

Additionally, most employees are unfamiliar with technical jargon or the underlying complexity behind requests. Therefore, it’s best to find a platform that requires only necessary action. By bringing together multiple functions such as finance, HR and IT into a unified employee self-service portal, employees have a single point of contact for any support or service request.


This is crucial to providing an enjoyable, consistent brand experience. Not only should the portal reflect your organization’s branding whenever possible, it should also have configuration options that make each employee’s experience unique.

You can build relevancy by evaluating past behavior such as services requested or work functionalities. If an employee uses a specific function regularly, for example, it should appear on the selection list more prominently. Customized learning paths and messages that only go out to the specific audience (team, individual) are a few other ways you can create a personalized experience.

Always Follow Up

End-to-end connection with continuous follow-up to service requests ensures details don’t slip through the cracks. Employees should be able to use the portal to query on the status of a request, review planned delivery timelines and also assess work scenarios. Upon completion of request, an integrated ESS platform allows you to evaluate the quality of the service with feedback forms and automated surveys.

Create Awareness

People need to know about the self-service option and understand why they should use it. Explain the reasons behind its implementation, intended purposes and its many benefits. You should also take employee feedback, suggestions and ideas into account to help improve any weaknesses.

Create a Balance

Even though employee self-service is an established practice, that doesn’t make it a “one size fits all” model that can apply to any situation or requirement. It’s a structured process that doesn’t require special or continuous intervention. Despite the many advantages if offers, it won’t fully replace human interaction.

These five guiding principles can help you get the most out of your implementation of employee self-service. However, every situation is unique. As you think about an ESS strategy, your best bet to achieve success is to alter and add to the principles according to your organization’s approaches and needs.

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Challenges of HRIS Self-Service

HR self-service saves a company money and has various benefits as covered above, but there are challenges as well. Keep the following factors in mind to maximize the benefits of using ESS.

  1. Employees need to have experience and training to reduce the likelihood of mistakes. Training must not only cover how to use the system but also how to troubleshoot problems.
  2. It takes an initial investment to implement, depending on your company’s needs and the service provider.
  3. Predesigned self-service products need to be tailored to fit your businesses.
  4. Since an employee portal involves storing and accessing confidential information, strong technology security is imperative. Also, concerns over security may make employees insecure and hesitant to update their information, especially in light of regulations regarding data privacy. You need to be prepared to address these concerns appropriately.

Addressing these challenges will help you make your ESS deployment smoother and more effective in the long run.

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With HRIS self-service, you can turn your HR department into a one-stop hub, allowing employees to direct their own path to success as HR focuses on cost-cutting measures, like turnover reduction and faster onboarding. You can maintain exceptional data quality without adding hours to the HR budget. And letting employees take on tasks like data entry improves HR productivity and reduces hours spent on administration.

If you’re shopping for an HRIS solution, we’ve prepared a free, comprehensive requirements template to help manage your HRIS selection process and find the product that’s right for you.

How would HR self-service make a difference at your company? Let us know in the comments!

Shaleen Jha7 Ways HR Self-Service Can Help Your Company

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