Employee self-service – pros and cons

pros and cons

Thanks to payroll technology becoming more sophisticated, there’s no reason why employees can’t access the system to make amendments to their own records. Welcome to payroll self service…

As an HR or payroll manager, have you ever thought what it might be like to spend a day without dealing with an employee request to update their personal details, re-issue a copy of a payslip, or check their holiday entitlement? If you extend this welcome scenario over a period of weeks, months and years, you’re envisaging the massive potential of payroll self-service (PSS).

The technology infrastructure and software to support PSS has been around for more than a decade, but adoption has been slow. There have been cultural barriers, with employees not used to viewing their payslip online as oppose to receiving it in an envelope, and there are often concerns around equality of access, implementation costs and data confidentiality.

However, attitudes are changing. A survey by Computers In Personnel (CIP) last year found that while only 17% of employers provided electronic payslips, 74% planned to introduce them. “Payroll is definitely one of the hottest areas of self-service,” says head of sales Tracy Davies.

Admin savings

The most-touted advantage of self-service is the reduction in payroll and HR administration costs.

Law firm Browne Jacobson introduced self-service with a human capital management system from COA Solutions. Employees can self-serve to access their personal information, as well as book, cancel and amend holiday requests, which feed into payroll.

“This has reduced the processing of pay changes from 30 minutes per change to just five minutes, relieving the burden placed on the HR department,” says Kelly Tatton, HR systems adviser.

At Gosport Borough Council, the HR department has embraced self-service through  NorthgateArinso’s ResourceLink software. Employees can securely log in to manage their own employee data, says Phillip Reynolds, the council’s head of pay and administration.

“They can do things like view pay slips or holiday remaining, but also manage their own affairs to a certain extent, by choosing different flexible benefits or booking holidays,” he adds.

Catering company BaxterStorey brought in Bond TeamSpirit’s web-based manager and employee self-service modules. As a result, online timesheet entry saved five administrators a total of 10 days of keying in data.

Technical considerations

Technically, there are few barriers to implementing PSS. The typical set-up would allow employees to view pay advice and pay history, change personal details, submit timesheets and file expense claims, alongside HR-related tasks such as holiday requests and submitting job applications.

Providers are adding functionality all the time to refine their offerings and help employees make the transition. For instance, Ceridian has added interactive help functions to explain each part of the online payslip. “It helps to reduce the volume of calls to the payroll department,” says payroll product manager Ian Brennan.

The software can reside locally, or it may be hosted by the provider and be accessed by employees via the internet. Some organisations have introduced self-service as part of a wider hosted service, which is more affordable as the supplier maintains and upgrades the software.

Maximising functionality

It isn’t just the employees who are empowered by payroll self-service; HR managers have more of their time freed up, depending on the functionality used.

CIP’s Davies says more organisations are using self-service to manage transactions and workflows in a range of payroll and HR disciplines. The software provider has set up a voice recognition-based service, which allows employees to report their first day of absence.

“The details are logged and this kicks off a series of workflows,” Davies explains. “Alerts are automatically sent to the employee’s manager and HR, triggering support systems and allowing managers to act quickly if they need to find short-term replacements.”

Ceridian’s Brennan offers the example of an automated overtime approvals process, which uses a workflow to route an overtime request to the right manager for sign-off. “It speeds up the process, increases accuracy and creates real-time data,” he says.

Frontier Payroll Pyramid Northgate Ceridian BondTeamSpirit Advanced

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