Updating HR processes: the importance of employee and manager self service

Some of the most agile businesses across Birmingham and the West Midlands are beginning to consider change programmes more regularly in order to introduce more autonomy to the workplace.

Employee self-service (ESS) and manager self-service (MSS) systems are tools that can help give autonomy and responsibility back to employees across several human resource (HR) functions.

Updating personal information, managing leave requests, and accessing certain payroll information are all examples of back-office functions that can help create a greater sense of ownership over tasks, whilst simultaneously promoting operational efficiencies for businesses across the region.

With employees having greater ownership of actions such as reporting absences, claiming overtime or expenses and coordinating appraisals, ESS models bring a whole host of benefits that can not only increase overall productivity but help decrease costs. For example, rather than having to print documents and incur administration and postage costs, key documents can be accessed from a portal. Similarly, MSS can help managers have more visibility over their team, so they can focus on supporting activity and engagement, rather than chasing data.

Furthermore, leave and expenses can be requested and approved at both the employee’s and the manager’s convenience, eliminating the need for in-person or paper-based communication. This can help to support remote working, which is becoming a crucial asset when enticing potential new members of staff.

The greater visibility afforded to managers not only helps to promote stronger ownership of data, but the data is more likely to be accurate and up to date. This provides the local businesses or organisations with a greater understanding of both their employees and their costs and is vital to comply with many duty of care responsibilities.

Transforming outdated, manual systems can also help to streamline processes and fix inconsistencies in policies and processes where staff members may have started employment at different time periods. A crucial element within the transformation process, therefore, is ensuring that employees are involved at the earliest opportunity to make sure that all necessary data is gathered. This will help to make sure all information is of a higher quality and remove potential barriers to success.

The move to an ESS and MSS model can be an overwhelming task to carry out. In order to mitigate bumps in the road during the change journey, decision makers should begin by undertaking a cost/benefit analysis in order to ensure that budgets are being spent efficiently. This analysis will also help to emphasise priority areas, so functionality can be rolled out in line with those priorities.

The greatest asset for a business or organisation is its people, so communication is key in any change project. Encouraging transparency through each step of the change journey will help tackle difficulties or challenges that need adjusting within the workforce. Change can be a personal experience, and it’s natural for projects to come up against a level of resistance, especially when introducing new and more visible and auditable policies and procedures that involve sensitive HR and payroll information. It’s advisable for decision makers and managers to ensure consistent communication throughout, to help remove barriers and promote change for good among employees.

Decision-makers should ensure that time is factored into the project to allow for thorough planning and testing, as well as to ensure that any concerns or legacy issues, particularly on data quality and procedures, are dealt with before the transition begins. Similarly, employee and manager training will also be a vital part of the change process, as it should not be assumed that all employees and managers will be able to use self-service without training and supporting guidance.

While the undertaking of a transformation to an ESS and MSS model may seem challenging at first, and certainly may come with some barriers, the benefits that can be had by both employee and employer are bountiful. As work patterns continue to change throughout sectors in the West Midlands, it is increasingly crucial to stay ahead of the curve and embrace the digital world. By welcoming new ways of working and through efficient and effective training, there are plenty of rewards to be recognised. These include more proactive processes, reduction in costs and labour and increased employee satisfaction, which ultimately will help with staff retention and company growth.

Tamara Pleasant is a principal consultant at business change consultancy Entec Si.