There’s a good chance your organization uses some form of employee self-service, even if you don’t call it that. ESS, or Employee Self-Service, is simply a means for employees to directly access various forms of HR software and data.
Typically, an employer will set up some type of employee portal, accessible either on the internet using an employee login and password, or through the company’s chosen software. This is often implemented as one piece of a larger human resources information system or other HR system.
Types of Information Employees Access Via ESS
There are a lot of different types of information employers may choose to make accessible via the ESS. Here are some examples:
- Personal information, including contact info. Employees can usually use the portal to update things like their mailing address or phone number.
- Payroll data, including previous pay stubs, tax withholding details, vacation time accrued, and the like. Some systems allow employees to use the portal to request changes, such as tax withholding or direct deposit changes.
- Time-keeping logs. Employees who track hours worked can usually view it here. Some systems also allow employees to use the portal to submit PTO or other leave requests.
- Company policies and procedures and/or the full company handbook.
- Benefits details, including the ability to enroll in some types of benefits programs directly from the portal in some cases. This may be where employees go to select their health insurance during open enrollment, for example.
- Employee development plans could also be incorporated.
- Employee or travel expense and reimbursement (and tracking of such) can be incorporated.
Benefits to Using ESS
There are a lot of benefits to allowing employees to access these types of information directly. The first benefit is that it clearly frees up the time of HR professionals from having to look these things up manually for each employee request. There are other benefits as well:
- Allowing employees to have direct access means they’re more likely to review the information and correct anything that’s missing or in error.
- These portals can be customized to draw data from multiple sources, allowing employees to have a “one stop shop” to find payroll info, policy info, development info, training info, and more—all in one place.
- Employees may feel more job satisfaction if they feel they have more control and easy access to this type of information.
- Employees can access the system at any time, without having to wait on someone to be available to help. Even if their request eventually requires assistance, they can complete the first step at their convenience.
- Giving employees direct access to print their own records can cut costs for the employer. This is because only employees who truly value and need the paper copy will be inclined to print it, thus saving printing and distribution costs. This is just one example of how an ESS can help an employer on the route to becoming paperless.
Downsides to Using ESS
Of course, there are also some potential downsides to using ESS. For example:
- To truly integrate multiple platforms as described above, it could be technologically challenging, especially if the information is all coming from disparate locations.
- Having an ESS represents one more thing employees need to be trained on. With so many different aspects to the system, the training can be more intense than some other types of software, even if each section is relatively straightforward.
- All systems still need to be maintained. This is of course always true, but more than ever if employees are going to expect 100% accurate and updated information at all times. This may mean additional administrative burden.