Over the past few months, our work environments have become more and more digitalized. This trend includes many people working from home, resulting in the digitalization of numerous HR processes. In fact, an increasing amount of data and documents are now being captured and stored digitally. To accelerate this development and avoid the media disruptions that occur between paper and digital information, self-service options are becoming firmly established in HR departments. Being centrally grouped in a digital portal, they enable a new level of autonomy in communication and data exchange between employees, managers and HR.
The popularity of self-service is demonstrated by the study HR Self-Service: HR Departments on Their Way to a Digital Future, conducted by EASY SOFTWARE. Six out of ten companies with more than 250 employees already use self-service (27%) or have concrete projects in the pipeline (33%). In addition, a further 20 percent are currently still looking for a suitable self-service solution for their HR tasks. Meanwhile only just under one fifth of all companies expect to be able to do without self-service tools in the foreseeable future.
Why Self-Service Is Booming in HR
What are the reasons fuelling the great demand for self-service in HR departments? In short, there are two primary motivations. On the one hand, self-service tools free HR departments from time-consuming routine tasks in day-to-day operations and facilitate access to HR data. On the other hand, they fulfill the promise of digitalization to simplify internal processes through the integration of interactive tools in a manner familiar from many other areas of life.
As beneficial as introducing self-service in HR is, we understand why some companies are reluctant to do so. After all, both the HR department and the employees are breaking new ground by switching from well-established processes to self-service. To facilitate this transition and help you to make the right decisions when selecting a self-service solution, this blog post explains the nine most important requirements that employee and manager self-service should meet.
1. HR Self-Service Must Relieve Employees and HR
There are two different types of self-service solutions in HR: employee self-service (ESS) and manager self-service (MSS). But what do these terms mean? Employee self-service refers to digital tools that employees can use to communicate with HR, e.g. to record working hours, holiday and sick leave, retrieve digital payslips or alter HR master data in the system. During times of pandemic, HR self-service also provides support through features such as room bookings and reservations. This way, you can implement requirements such as social distancing, maximum number of people and attendance lists to minimize health risks for all employees.
In a similar vein, manager self-service enables managers to easily access relevant information and complete simple administrative tasks. In practice, this could be viewing an attendance list or approving holiday requests. Manager self-service can also be used for more complex tasks such as recruiting or HR planning.
If both ESS and MSS features are relevant to your business, you need to make sure that the software supports both roles and their associated processes when selecting a self-service solution.
2. HR Self-Service Must Include All Important Features
Employee self-service and manager self-service consists of a different set of features and functions. However, a suitable solution shouldn’t just have a plethora of capabilities; it should first and foremost fulfil the core requirements. To a certain extent, these depend on a company’s individual needs and should be defined in each specific case.
It’s also helpful to look at the bigger picture when making decisions, e.g. to see how other companies use self-service tools. Our study HR Self-Service: HR Departments on Their Way to a Digital Future, found that holiday requests, recording working hours and the option of digital sick leave are the most frequently used features. In addition, employees have direct access to their own digital personnel file in four out of ten companies that use self-service solutions.
3. HR Self-Service Can Be Flexibly Adapted to Your Company
Given the numerous possibilities offered by employee and manager self-service, you have to ask yourself a financial question: do you really need this range of functions in your company – or are you spending money on useless features? Self-service portals with a modular structure offer a clever way out of this dilemma by enabling you to expand the portal with additional features alongside the important core functions.
This structure allows you to tailor it exactly to the needs of your organization, thereby protecting your employees from having to work with a tool overloaded with features. At the end of the day, you’re very likely to save on costs as well.
4. HR Self-Service Must Have a Transparent Cost Structure
Speaking of costs, you should think very carefully about the technical requirements the system should meet from a cost perspective before purchasing a self-service solution. As with any software solution, employee and manager self-service comes in the form of classic licensing systems, where the software is installed locally, and flexible solutions offered as software-as-a-service.
When making your decision, make sure that the selected system has a transparent cost structure. A good self-service solution calculates costs according to the number of workstations or employees and the selected range of functions. This pricing model allows for simple, clear calculations and can be flexibly adapted to your company’s needs.
5. HR Self-Service Should Be User-Friendly and Intuitive
It goes without saying that usability is a basic requirement for any modern software application. Incidentally, this means that an application must be both easy to use and run in a quick and stable manner on all devices. When it comes to self-service, however, this point is particularly important, since employee self-service solutions are generally used by very different employees with varying levels of computer expertise.
Software that is difficult to use or technologically underdeveloped quickly leads to frustration for everyone involved. In such cases, your company would have to provide extensive training and improve its technical infrastructure. The result? Suboptimal use of valuable human and financial resources!
6. HR Self-Service Should Work on Any Device
Computer, smartphone or tablet? User-friendliness also indirectly affects the question of which devices can be used. Employee and manager self-service that can only be accessed via the company PC, laptop or a device on company premises offers little in terms of flexibility.
The better solution is a complementary app that all employees can use on their smartphone or tablet – anytime, anywhere. This not only ensures maximum flexibility, since pretty much all employees have a smartphone nowadays; it also expands the application’s range of use because documents can be photographed and uploaded directly on a mobile device.
7. HR Self-Service Ensures Transparency and Drives Collaboration
Sometimes the devil is in the details. For a self-service to truly simplify HR processes, it must offer practical solutions. A good example is holiday planning: it’s not enough for employees to request their holiday leave via a self-service portal. The application must also be able to offset the holiday request against existing and already used holidays, taking into account other parameters such as weekends and bank holidays.
In addition, managers and HR employees should always have insights into the current status of holiday requests in order to have planning security and be able to grant holiday requests in a reliable manner.
8. HR Self-Service Must Comply with Data Protection Requirements
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has been in force since May 2018, also has an impact on employee and manager self-service. All data that is recorded, stored and made accessible via a self-service portal must comply with the provisions of the regulation at every step of the process and at all times.
A self-service solution should not only take this into account by incorporating GDPR requirements; it should also actively support your HR department in digitalizing employee data.
9. HR Self-Service Must Be Embraced by Your Employees
Perhaps the most important point in conclusion: HR self-service can only enjoy success in a company if it’s widely accepted by employees. Some of the previously mentioned aspects such as user-friendliness, flexibility or a meaningful range of functions are decisive to ensuring this. In an ideal case, you will involve your employees in the process of selecting a solution.
When selecting your self-service solution, ensure that it promises to generate tangible added value for your employees’ day-to-day work, e.g. by linking basic functions such as holiday planning with useful additional features such as a company-wide news center. For HR departments, the three greatest benefits of self-service are: time savings, general easing of the HR department’s workload, and automation of routine operational tasks.