An employee portal is the easiest way to access self-service functions that make employees and managers more efficient, but there are a number of key considerations for HR. Keith Rodgers presents a guide on how to create a successful portal
Driven by the need to cut costs, improve internal communications and raise productivity, more organisations are looking to capitalise on their internet-based communications infrastructures by building employee portals that add functionality to their company intranet. With many early adopters touting measurable returns from their investments, portals are seen as a practical solution to the inefficiencies that blight typical HR administrative functions, as well as a strategic platform for improving working practices and employee development.
The evolution of employee portals covers several key areas. While they are typically viewed from an HR perspective, in practice, portals draw information from across the company, providing a central workplace for employees, one point of access to applications and personalised information feeds. Within the portal infrastructure, employee self-service allows individuals to carry out a range of administrative tasks, from changing their bank details to enrolling in benefits and viewing online payslips, and also provides the tools for collaborative working. Manager self-service devolves responsibility to departments, allows for improved decision-making in areas such as salary planning and enhances performance management.
At an organisational level, the portals provide a powerful communication mechanism for the enterprise, expanding the reach of the company while allowing it to personalise its messages, and building its 'brand image' as an employer. At each stage, the benefits are a combination of hard and soft measures.
As with any HRIT investment, however, users' experiences have been mixed. Even at a rudimentary level, employee portals change the way that individuals interact with the organisational structure and throw forward a host of challenges, both technical and cultural.
Building a successful portal strategy requires the HR function to tackle four critical issues upfront.
1. Planning the initial roll-out
Although the concept of employee portals and self-service is relatively new, most organisations already have some kind of intranet infrastructure in place to provide the basis for online