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HRIS Applications- Employee Self Service

Does Your Company Need a HRIS Applications Employee Self-Service system?

Many of the HRIS Applications on the market today offer Internet-based employee self-service options. But do you need one, and how can they be helpful?

Typical HRIS Applications Employee Self-Service Features

Employee Self-Service (ESS) HR Information Systems applications have gained in popularity over the last several years. In a nutshell, these HRIS applications are Internet-based products that allow employees to view and/or edit information related to their HRIS applications employee file. Employees may be able to update their emergency contact information and personal contact information, or even change their address when necessary. A number of the self-service applications also include Benefits Open Enrollment. Employees often like this arrangement because they’re in charge of their own data and Human Resources (HR) professionals like it because it cuts down on their input workload.

Another, often unmentioned, benefit of ESS is manager self-service. In many of these HRIS applications, managers and supervisors are able to view data on both direct and indirect reports. So instead of having to contact HR they can simply look up the data they need about an employee online. The benefits of an ESS program can be tremendous – but not to every type of organization.


It stands to reason that white-collar organizations are going to have a higher percentage of employees with Internet access in their homes than blue-collar organizations do (though this is certainly not always the case). Before investing in an online HR Management Software employee self-service product, it’s a good idea to find out what percentage of your employees will be able to access the product from their homes. Even if the percentage is small that does not necessarily mean you should not invest in an ESS product; I have seen and helped a number of companies set up kiosks in break rooms or cafeterias where the employees can access the company ESS product. But the overall usefulness of such a system to your employees is definitely an important consideration.

How Technical Are Your Employees?

Once again, this is a call you need to make before investing in a HRIS applicatons ESS product. If most of your employees are not very technical, they may be reluctant to use the product or your HR staff might have to answer so many questions that the system doesn’t end up actually saving time and effort.

Manager Self Service

Some of the HRIS applications we list on price the self-service products per user. So regardless of the technical capabilities of the employees, it may be a good idea to put a product in place for supervisors, managers, and executive staff.


The most common concern I see from HR professionals regarding ESS systems is a reluctance to have employees making changes to their data. There are system features that can help eliminate this concern. For example, you are usually able to select which fields they can view and which they cannot, and which fields they can edit and which they cannot. Obviously, you would not want Jane Doe changing her pay rate, but you may be okay with her changing her cell phone number. Some systems also include workflow features in which employee-made changes do not take effect in the HR product until a supervisor approves them. Another common worry is that an unscrupulous employee might make unnecessary changes to another employee’s information. This is always a risk, so such concerns must be weighed against the other benefits that an ESS product offers.

Finally, even if your organization doesn’t need an ESS application today, it very well might in the future. For that reason alone, it may be a good idea to select an HRMS with the capability.

About the Author

Clay Scroggin has worked in the Human Resource and Payroll Software Industry for more than fifteen years. During that time Clay and those who have worked for him, have assisted hundreds of HR professionals with their HR software needs. In 2007, Clay began working on, a site dedicated to assisting HR professionals with their search, selection, implementation and use of HR systems. The site contains several tools to assist HR professionals with their HR software research including: a HRIS HRMS Software Selection Tool and a HR Software Blog Forum.

Be sure to download our Detailed Free HRIS Buyers Guide which provides a detailed ten step approach to selecting HR Software.


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