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Micah Fairchild The Top 3 Ways to Optimize your Employee Self-Service Software

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 By Micah Fairchild

Employee Self-Service Systems Central to Core HR

An early and obvious win in the e-HR evolution was to delegate the basic data capture and maintenance to the data subject (i.e. the employee). Employee self-service (ESS) software gave some control (and therefore a degree of empowerment and engagement) to the employee and sought to free up HR staff from a suite of basic administrative tasks such as personal data updates, attendance tracking, leave and even benefits enrollment. The 2010 paper Optimizing HR Delivery Channels claims, "Overall, nearly 90 percent of HR, payroll, and benefits transactions are conducted via self-service on the Web." Furthermore, businesses are not content for their ESS to stand still. A Towers Watson report, New Horizons, No Boundaries found that fully 37% of organizations are implementing new or leveraging existing self-service functions and 11% even put employee self service software as one of their top three HR service delivery issues for the coming year. There is no denying the central role of ESS for many organizations in keeping costs down and HR service delivery standards up.

Employee Self Service Software Optimization Tactic #1: Widespread Adoption

The Oracle 2011 white paper HR Service Delivery Models cautions that "although you may provide HR self-service and portal content to the workforce, these self-service channels are often not utilized enough to achieve needed cost savings." The key to maximizing savings is widespread workforce adoption. The so-called 'e-channels' – web portal, email and chat – allow employees to access self service software at virtually anytime and at anyplace. This provides the lowest cost service routes for HR which can create the most significant reduction in costs, particularly in international concerns, for whom an automated 24/7 HR self service system can provide a constant service across borders and time zones. Additionally, cost savings can be optimized by combing ESS with Manager Self-Service (MSS) software and an HR help desk, as suggested by CedarCrestone's 2011-12 HR Systems Survey. That study found that, when adopted across the board, HR headcount can be reduced by as much as 25 percent.

ESS Software Optimization Tactic #2: Strategic Adoption

Employee self service software installation alone does not guarantee results. To ensure that an ESS software system is embraced by the workforce and used to its full potential, an appropriate adoption strategy must be employed. The HR Outsourcing Association recommends a six-step adoption strategy:

  1. Survey a representative sample of employees regarding their delivery channel preferences
  2. Identify clear objectives (including success measures) for HR self service adoption and identify the potential business value
  3. Identify measures that can be deployed to drive up usage of the desired channels
  4. Create and implement a communications strategy to support the ESS program
  5. Measure and evaluate results against the identified goals
  6. Reset goals and strategies to reinforce successful behavior change

Although this multi-faceted approach may seem complex, Towers Watson pointed out some good news regarding employee appetite for HR self service systems, saying that "even as organizations deploy self-service technology at a fairly rapid pace, employees and line managers are interested in an even more aggressive pace for receiving these capabilities and the ability to access and control their own data."

ESS Software Optimization Tactic #3: Multi-tiered Approach

When used as part of a multi-tier HR delivery approach, Employee Self-Service software is more likely to accrue the expected benefits. With a high adoption rate, between 75% and 90% of HR transactions can be serviced at the first tier via ESS thus freeing up HR staff to provide 'higher tier' services such as informed assistance with non-routine inquiries, expert assistance with cases, and policy and strategic level HR support. A Gartner report suggests that "a properly implemented multi-tier model expands the use of self-service applications, leverages less-expensive service center agents (while still providing a high level of service) and reduces the amount of time HR subject matter experts spend answering routine questions."

Additional Opportunities for ESS Software Optimization

Optimizing HR self service implementation and adoption will enable organizations to achieve more with less, and new system design is expanding beyond the simple devolution of corporate record-keeping to show an increasing capacity for personalization. These enhanced employee self service software systems will invite employees to add details of pastimes, interests and personal aspirations. Charles Jones, Chairman and CEO of Peopleclick Authoria, says, "…the system of record is fast-becoming the individual", and "productivity is now all about total awareness and collaboration." Two quotes that prompted Steve Goldberg, in Bersin & Associates 2011 The Future of Employee Self-Service, to comment, "think of all of the events, knowledge and forums for collaboration that relate to employees that are part of the value they bring to the organization and their fellow employees. Those events, pieces of knowledge and collaborations are the future of Employee Self Service systems." End

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There is no denying the central role of Employee Self-Service for many organizations in keep costs down and HR delivery standards up."


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