More and more companies are offering employee portals so that employees can independently access information that is relevant to them. In the blog, you can find out why your company benefits from manager and employee self-service and what advantages and disadvantages self-service portals offer.

These days, we are used to managing our own affairs. There are numerous examples in our daily lives in which we make use of a self-service offer: at the supermarket, the bank, with energy companies and insurance companies, or even at the breakfast buffet in our favorite café.

Self-services are also making inroads into the business environment, as employee portals, for example. These platforms, which are mostly web-based, make data, information and documents available to employees, allowing them to access and manage these directly via the Employee Self-Service (ESS) portal without having to contact HR. There are several ways of making content available via self-services, for example:

  • Employee master data
  • Leave requests
  • Salary statements
  • Employment references
  • Company guidelines
  • Insurance documents, etc.

Do all companies really need an employee portal, though? To help you decide, these are the arguments in favor of a self-service portal as well as the issues to consider before its implementation.

1 Employer Branding: Be the employer that employees would recommend to others

Studies make it official: the search for meaning has also made its way into the world of work. Employees in the 21st century want more than just a great salary and a generous holiday package, they want companies that stand for something worthwhile and share similar values. Employer branding has played a decisive role in HR departments since this development, as it actively helps to recruit and retain employees and creates increased employee satisfaction in the long term. There is no doubt that successful employer branding is crucial for the success of a company. Expressed in figures, this means:

Manager Self Service

What distinguishes good employer branding? Employees and managers want a working life that can be combined with their private lives. They communicate with their friends via social media, control their home using apps, sign contracts online, “OK Google” knows the answer to all their questions and they protect the rainforest using their eReader. A company where you manually enter your working hours in a printed list, call in sick by email or have to pick up the phone for every inquiry no longer fits in with their idea of work and can lead to increased levels of dissatisfaction. Digital applications for your employees and managers (Manager und Employee Self-Service) start here and make it possible to initiate, execute and edit processes in an independent and seamless manner – just as they are used to in their private lives. Especially in HR, there are some standard processes which, if carried out digitally, generate significant added value for your employees.

2 Whether mobile working or home office: Self-service platforms make flexible working a reality

70 percent of employees across the globe work from home at least once a week! In light of the increasing competition for employees and life concepts becoming more and more flexible, mobile work models are a way that works sustainably for employees and employers alike. The basis for flexible working models is the digitalization of business processes. In addition, companies with a digital focus are particularly popular with the younger generation of employees.

However, the trend towards the home office and flexible working is not accompanied by a decreasing need for efficient collaboration. Employees want and companies need strong teams more than ever. Employee Self-Service (ESS) platforms are thus not only indispensable for digitally synchronizing work across various locations, but also for the kindling of team spirit among individual employees.

Whitepaper: With Employee and Manager Self Services to HR 4.0

Employee Self Service prepares HR for the future! In this whitepaper, we inform you in detail about the possibilities and opportunities for your company.

3 Save Time and Money with Digital HR Processes

To a large extent, employees in the HR department are occupied with recurring HR processes. A lot of time is needed and vital resources are eaten up each time something needs to be processed manually. At the same time, the tasks and processes in HR are becoming more and more complex and time-consuming, as they have to play an increasingly strategic role in the company’s success – all without a drop in the number of standard processes.

However, these recurring HR processes can be digitally mapped, which would make everything a lot easier. The principle is as follows: the employee initiates the digital process and the ESS system ensures that it is processed. Thanks to automation, standardized processes, such as vacation requests, can be processed without the need for an HR employee to get involved. This way, they have more time and energy to concentrate on what really matters.

3 Full Transparency: Employees Manage Their Data even in Decentralized Manager and Employee Self-Service

It is commonly agreed that data is the oil of our time for companies. However, this is increasingly becoming a cause of concern for private individuals. Data scandals are almost a daily occurence, and, since GDPR came into force, most EU citizens have become more aware of what data they share with third parties. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that employees want to decide for themselves how, when and what they do with their data, even while they’re at work.

With Employee Self-Service, the creation and management of personal data is the employee’s responsibility. In addition, all personal data for digital self-service modules is stored decentrally on the server and is therefore protected to a very high degree. This guarantees GDPR-compliant document management with maximum transparency while data sovereignty remains with the employee.

4 ESS in a Paperless Office: Paperless With No Ifs and Buts

Sustainable, contemporary, practical: the paperless office is almost a symbol for the modern, digital workplace. Being able to work digitally has also become a personal concern for many employees. If a company wants to ensure consistent digitalization in the long run, it has no choice but to switch to a paperless office.

If your planning, control and logistics processes should be digitalized, why not HR processes as well? In fact, paper is already unnecessary today thanks to Employee Self-Service. All documents can be sent, signed and processed digitally. This saves a lot of precious trees and means you always have easy access to the most up-to-date version of any given document.

5 Full transparency: employees manage their data themselves in the decentralized Manager and Employee Self Service

For companies, data is the oil of our time; for private individuals, it is increasingly a cause for concern. Data scandals are almost the order of the day and most citizens’ awareness of what data they share with third parties has increased. It is obvious that employees also want to decide for themselves how, when and what happens with their data in their professional lives.

In Employee Self Service, the creation and management of personal data is up to the employee. In addition, all personal data for digital self-service modules is stored decentrally on the server and is therefore protected to the maximum. This guarantees data protection-compliant document management with maximum transparency – and data sovereignty remains with the employee.

In the future, however, your customers and partners will tend to expect more legal certainty from you than before. Disappointing these expectations is fatal for a company; exceeding them is a real business opportunity. Your employees can record compliance-relevant facts, read up on the compliance rules if they are unclear and, if necessary, request approval directly from superiors. In keeping with the spirit of digitalization, compliance thus works quickly, easily and from anywhere – even on mobile devices, through the corresponding employee software. This makes compliance an integral part of your corporate culture.

6 Digital Retains: Employees Stay in Companies That Suit Them

A saturated recruitment market has been causing problems for the world of work for years, which is why recruiting the best employees is becoming increasingly crucial. However, encouraging the newly acquired talent to stay is at least as important as finding them. The best way to foster this commitment is to listen to new employees, respond to their needs and desires, and offer them simple processes that fit their vision of work.

In addition to factors such as a generous salary, highly qualified employees increasingly want other concrete things from their employer, such as a job that fits in with their life as well as more independence and responsibility.

With Manager and Employee Self-Service platforms, you can make a significant difference to your employees: these systems delegate and maintain information independently and understand processes without constantly having to ask for permission.

7 Employee Self Service - Pros and Cons of Employee Portals

Pro: Advantages of employee portals

Time and cost savings
Where enquiries on personnel-related topics, such as salary statements, change of address data or holiday applications, always lead via the HR department in the conventional way and are often associated with long waiting times, the matter is settled via a self-service portal with just a few clicks. Since employees can download their documents themselves, processes are noticeably shortened and waiting or mailing times are eliminated. Employee Software thus saves both employees and HR managers valuable time, which they can use instead for their core tasks.

Accounts to systems for employees who only use them occasionally can also be partially eliminated, as the required documents can be made available directly via the portal.

Transparency
Another advantage of employee portals is the transparency created by the digital mapping of processes. If an employee initiates a workflow via the self-service platform, for example by submitting a leave request, it is possible to see exactly where the request is in the approval process and when the employee can expect a response. This saves unnecessary queries, which in turn leads to more time on both sides.

Better data quality
With an EES portal, employees have control over their data. If there are changes to the master data, such as a new address or account details, they can quickly and easily adjust them themselves. The up-to-dateness of the data is thus optimised; after all, everyone knows their own data best. Employees can also maintain their own training courses via the self-service offer.

Employee loyalty
Cumbersome, lengthy processes can be demotivating, especially when it comes to administrative issues that do not advance one’s own work. By introducing Employee Self Services, companies take an important step towards digitalisation and present themselves as modern employers. This can have a noticeable impact on employee retention, because digital processes are a must, especially for the younger generation of employees, the so-called digital natives!

Flexibility
Especially in times of increased remote working, employee portals have a decisive advantage: they enable maximum flexibility – no matter where and when employees work, via the web-based ESS portal (Employee Self Services Portal) they have the possibility to access and manage information relevant to them. Especially when employees are at different locations or do not work at the same time, annoying waiting and dispatch times are eliminated.

Self-services offered via an app can be used even more flexibly. Modern employee software can be used via any end device, so that even employees who do not have a computer workstation can access it via their private smartphone. This again increases employee satisfaction.

Contra - what absolutely has to be considered with employee portals

Functionality and accessibility
For an employee portal to be a success, it must function flawlessly. Bumpy running software, missing important features or poor platform accessibility would jeopardize the success of the ESS solution, as no one likes to work with bad software.

Solution:
Good preparation and thorough solution selection takes the wind out of this argument’s sails. Evaluate which functions the employee portal should offer and which software can best implement them. To ensure that all information relevant to employees can be mapped and processes run smoothly and digitally throughout, a seamless connection to relevant third-party systems is necessary.

Simple implementation and the possibility of single sign-on are also important requirements.

Security
Particularly in the personnel area, a lot of sensitive data is stored: Salary statements, employment contracts, certificates of incapacity to work, as well as employee master data.

Solution:
If you decide to use a self-service portal for employees, the security of this personal data must also be considered. With the right software, however, this is not a problem: Precise access concepts map the data protection requirements and clearly regulate who can access which content.

User acceptance
As with any new software, user acceptance should not be underestimated. One of the most common reasons why the introduction of new software solutions fails is that users simply do not accept the software and do not use it. This would mean that the investment would be for nothing.

Solution:
To prevent this from happening, the appropriate software should be chosen wisely. A solution that actually offers users added value by making their work easier has great potential to be quickly accepted by users. So, if the above functionalities are covered, the benefits can be quickly presented. User-friendliness also plays an important role. The self-service solution must be self-explanatory so that employees use it and do not choose the tried-and-tested route via the HR department for their concerns instead. A visually appealing user interface that fits harmoniously into the company’s corporate image also contributes to rapid acceptance.

Since everything that is new is generally viewed with a healthy skepticism at first, employees should be made aware of the plans to introduce a self-service portal at an early stage. This gives them enough time to get used to the idea and they may even be able to contribute their own ideas.

Self-service portals - a win-win for HR and employees

Employee portals can therefore save valuable time through digital processes, ensure flexibility and strengthen employee loyalty. This benefits both HR managers and employees, and ultimately the entire company, since resources are freed up that can be used for important strategic tasks, for example.

To ensure that certain issues do not have a detrimental effect, it is important to make a thorough selection of the appropriate software based on your own criteria.

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About Thomas Meysel
Thomas Meysel has been product manager for EASY applications since June 2016. In his spare time he travels as a passionate hobby chef and author of cookbooks on East African cuisine. If the cooking results are unsuccessful, he reduces his frustration by going to the Borussia Dortmund football stadium.
Thomas Meysel
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