Does HRIS mean ESS?

employee self serviceEmployees want a voice. Sometimes they don’t know what kind or how loud a voice, but they do want to be heard. Any competitive HRIS program offers Employee Self-Service (ESS) potential. Whether your HRIS equals ESS depends on how you manage it.

Get it right!

Employee self-service is a lofty goal, but you have to understand just what that means. From the HRIS point of view, the system will allow employees to:

  • Change their personal information, such as address, phone number, and number of exemptions.
  • Enroll in employee group benefits.
  • Update benefits information like beneficiaries or named insureds.
  • Schedule time off, leaves of absence, or vacation.
  • View personal performance assessments.
  • Monitor time, attendance, and payroll.
  • Access training opportunities and schedules.

What can go wrong?

Employee self-service does not mean employee self-satisfaction without the strategic and proactive work of Human Resources. Employee engagement won’t happen easily or accidentally without your preparation and intervention:

  • You have to listen. You need to know what employees want before you shop for your HRIS product, and you must listen thereafter to what they think works. Satisfaction will be subjective and variable, so you have to invite employee participation and feedback.
  • You must not oversell the product. You need to know its possibilities and its limits before you introduce it. It can be fatal if you promise satisfaction you and the system cannot deliver. So, you might consider a timed release on information about what employees can and cannot expect.
  • You need a strategy to identify those who do not interact with the system. You need a fallback tactic to name them and to bring them into work. Even after you have oriented new hires and trained current employees to the HRIS, you will find a number of workers who just resist. If this reflects ignorance of the workings, you can train them to it. If it reveals a stubborn defiance, it can be a matter of discipline when coaching does not work.
  • You have to measure the frequency and quality of the usage. Any data system depends on the quality of the input and understanding of the mechanics of the interaction. Your metrics should be clear and communicated to staff and to management with some regularity.
  • You can expect to revise your HRIS to serve unexpected and unforeseen needs. Your HRIS vendor will work with you, but you have to take the initiative to create a calendar of events to seek feedback, debrief the process, and recommend fine-tuning.

HR professionals risk thinking of their HRIS simply as a tool. In fact, you can make it a focus of conversation and dialogue over employee self-service success. If you want your HRIS to mean ESS, you need to position yourself and your employees for active involvement in its purchase, installation, and daily use.

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