HR Technology in Layman's Terms—Pillar #4: Self-Service

Peter Alkema

The last installment in our series on the five pillars of HR service delivery covers the technology that delivers self-service transactions and information to its users. Without self-service systems in place, employees have to phone the call center or trigger a manual process to get something done or query data about their remuneration. Many self-service HR systems allow users to customize their interfaces to suit their roles and even set up favorites if they regularly perform the same transactions. Importantly, the user screens should be intuitive and easy to navigate since employees will be casual users of the system and not build up much proficiency through frequent usage.

For the purposes of the five pillar model, all the value add features of an HR system are included in a discussion of self-service since the HR practitioners access it through self-service and they serve their own needs. This would include features such as succession planning, performance management, compensation management etc. Equally, these require the data rich integrated features of the primary system used by all the employees of an organization. Offering employees multiple systems on which to transact and serve their needs is frustrating and time consuming. There should be a single, aggregated front end that provides easy and convenient access to all transactions and information that employees might require.

Companies should also make use of non-PC based channels to deliver self-service functionality to their employees. Mobile devices are a natural aggregator as APIs can be written to multiple backend systems and delivered through simple menu / applications capabilities. This makes any complexity in the HR Technology architecture completely transparent to employees who don't need to know which system to deal with – they just need to process their transaction or find out some information. If this can be done as conveniently and intuitively as possible then training costs go down, employee engagement goes up and the quality of data for use in MI and reporting becomes much better.

If employees are able to serve their own needs through a self-service environment, they are more engaged, less dependent on HR practitioners and the HR shared services, plus the aggregated data and functionality keeps information and processes in one place. The user uptake is a key success factor and these types of systems compete with web 2.0 and social media technologies which employees are used to in their private lives. No one trained them on using Facebook, don't frustrate them with a complicated system that requires endless training – they won't use it and you'll have to keep retraining the organization when they get fed up and leave. There is no manual with an iPad; a 3 year old can use it! Make sure your IT department delivers self-service HR systems that are truly service oriented and self-sufficient!