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Employee Self-Service is a great tool, which when used in the right way improves the working lives of both employees and employers. Before we look at some of these benefits, what exactly is Employee Self-Service?

Employee Self-Service (ESS) is a technology which enables staff to directly access certain HR functions themselves, usually through means such as a portal or intranet. Typically, these are functions which previously required input from HR teams.

An increasing number of organisations are utilising ESS. Its use varies depending on the size and activities of a company, but common functions include updating personal information, downloading electronic payslips, viewing attendance records and booking leave. Due to the often-confidential nature of the data involved, secure logins are often required to access these services, which are either hosted locally or in the cloud.

Enable your HR to excel

There are many benefits to Employee Self-Service, but perhaps the most obvious is the reduction in HR administration. By enabling employees to access HR functions directly, you reduce the number of tasks your HR department are involved with. For example, in the case of staff booking time off, you will no longer need to manually process any holiday request forms. This will now be automated, with each request sent directly to the designated manager for approval. It also reduces the chance of human errors creeping in, which costs more time to correct.

In this way, self-service means that your organisation can focus more on strategic rather than transactional HR. With your team able to spend more of their time and expertise on aspects such as company culture and communication, you will improve staff retention and chances of hiring the best talent.

Good for all

On the other side of the coin, your organisation will benefit from employees having access to these additional HR functions. Increasing their involvement in this way means workers feel empowered and more responsible for their role. This boost in employee engagement, in turn, increases productivity. Even factors such as attendance can often be improved by giving staff ownership of them, in this case by providing access to their own attendance data.

Despite the name, Employee Self-Service also assists managers. A variety of HR functions involve managerial approval, such as holiday requests and attendance declarations. The automation involved in ESS means that anything requiring sign-off by a manager is sent directly to them, often with accompanying alerts for these pending tasks. Once these are validated, there’s no need for the manager to do anything further; any affected balances such as leave days or working hours are updated, and the requesting employee is notified too.

All day, every day

Another advantage of self-service is that through the use of web portals, ESS functions are always-on. Without this technology, even simple inquiries such as checking remaining holiday balances involve contacting your HR department directly. If they only work standard office hours, access to that information is limited to within those times, and a busy HR team might not be able to provide an immediate answer. ESS means that these functions are available to all staff at any time, and provide instant information. If hosted in the cloud, they can also be accessed from any location through an internet-enabled device, making it easy for anyone working remotely.


Employee self-service always on


Transparent working

Some aspects of HR are subject to audits and certain levels of compliance, due to either company regulations or national legislation. Employee Self-Service provides a transparent audit trail for your records, since every activity is logged. Historic reports can then be produced, as and when you need them.

Logging such events can also help with an atmosphere of fairness and organisational integrity. When it comes to aspects such as booking leave, it ensures that requests are processed on a first-come, first-served basis.


Self-service is undoubtedly a powerful tool, but there are several factors to consider when integrating it into your organisation. It might sound obvious, but you need to ensure that staff are properly informed about new ESS functions, and also encouraged to use them. A big part of this will be a training programme. Portals are usually simple to use, but at the very least, you still need to demonstrate this to your employees; no-one will benefit from these features if they are not being used.

Customisation is key

Being able to customise the self-service experience depending on the employee’s department and their common activities will encourage them to engage. For example, one of your engineers might find themselves frequently having to log the time they spend working on a specific project, and want that as the first visible function in the portal. Someone in your admin team, however, will have no use for this section and don’t need to see it.

When it comes to managers, they will have a different set of requirements, both for their managerial responsibilities and for themselves as an employee. In order to prioritise their workload, they might want to see a list of pending tasks such as attendance declarations and holiday requests requiring authorisation. Again, this all comes down to making it as easy to use as possible.

On the move

If you are operating ESS as a cloud solution, it’s important to remember to make it as mobile-friendly as possible. Staff won’t always be using a PC, especially outside of working hours, and it’s likely a large proportion of remote staff will favour a smartphone or tablet. Making this solution responsive means that it will adapt to whatever device is being used to access it, ensuring the user always has the best experience.


Employee self-service on the move


Further tips for take-up

Another way to increase take-up is to offer as many functions through ESS as possible. This makes it a much more frequent and instinctive process, rather than reverting to traditional methods such as contacting HR directly. If it also contains communications capabilities, this is another way to encourage usage. Don’t underestimate continuity either. Make sure your portal uses your company branding to make it familiar and part of your organisation, rather than something external and alien.

A win-win solution

When taking these considerations into account, there’s no doubt that Employee Self-Service is a powerful tool, one that not only reduces the workload on your HR team, but also improves the employee experience. Whether it’s linked to functionality such as Time & Attendance or staff benefits, it makes a lot of processes and information more accessible to workers, and promotes the use of forward-thinking solutions. Through this reduction of administration, it enables you to think about what the future of HR looks like for your organisation.

Could your organisation increase productivity by making the working lives of your managers and staff easier? Already rolling out Employee Self-Service across your business and need a Time & Attendance System with that function? Whatever your requirements, we will find the best solution tailored to the specific needs of your organisation.

Speak to our experts now to see what you’d gain from Time & Attendance with Employee Self-Service

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