Skip to content

How to Utilize Employee Self Service: Your HR Team Will Thank You

October 1, 2020

Employee Self Service

Day in and day out, HR managers are inundated with requests.

From answering the same questions regarding vacation time to providing the latest updates surrounding tax returns, it can take up a lot of time and energy to ensure all employees have access to the same information.

If this sounds familiar, it may be time to ensure your HR team stops being the go-between as your organization moves everything digital in the form of employee self service.

Typically, ESS can be found within HR portals and workforce management systems as a feature that employees have access to. From payroll, schedules, and benefits information, employees can make updates to their own information whenever necessary.

Common elements of employee self service portals

The team within your company’s human resources department has a long list of tasks on their plate day in and day out, and it only gets longer if they have to constantly make small changes to employee details. Thankfully, employee self service portals can free up their day as they can allow the employee to make the changes on their own time.

A typical HRMS contains a long list of data and information about your employees. What your employees can do in the ESS system will depend on what the software allows for, but some of the common details that employees are able to change with an ESS portal include:

  • Personal information: This includes contact information such as their home address, phone number, emergency contacts, and name.
  • Payroll data: Anything related to their pay stubs, direct deposit, tax withholding details, social security, banking information, and more.
  • Company policies: Policies, procedures, or anything pertaining to the company handbook.
  • Time-keeping and scheduling: If your employees keep track of their hours worked, they can do so here. Some portals also allow for employees to leave a PTO request and keep track of sick leave here, too. They can also see vacation time that has accrued.
  • Travel expense and reimbursement: When an employee takes a client out to dinner or has traveled to a conference out of state, ESS portals make it easy for them to submit all of the details and receipts so that they can easily be reimbursed.
  • Benefit details: Any time an employee wants to enroll in some type of benefit program, open enrollment, or health insurance policy, they can directly within the portal.

A lot of the details listed above can be considered highly sensitive information. Because of this, security is a crucial element to an employee self service portal, as you don’t want just anyone to view, edit, and manage these details. Thankfully, many ESS systems are designed with this in mind and come with privacy and security elements built-in.

For instance, before any changes can be made, an employee must get passed a firewalled login page. Many ESS portals also use dual or multi-factor authentication, in addition to a user ID, for heightened security.


of organizations use employee self service portals.

Source: (Sierra Cedar HR Systems)

Benefits of employee self service

Wondering what an employee self service portal can bring to your organization? Check out the advantages they can bring to your HR department and employees alike.

Improved efficiency

From recording work hours to requesting time off, all in one place, employee self service portals make employees more efficient. There’s no longer a need to send multiple emails to different people asking for approval or to walk through the office trying to find the one person you need to sign off on a form

Plus, when HR needs to collect information, it can be done fast and without the need for multiple reminders in Monday morning meetings.

When an ESS portal is utilized, employees and HR professionals alike spend less time on mundane to-dos and more time working on tasks that better grow the company. This will also reduce the workload of HR professionals, as anything that employees can do themselves helps lessen busywork.

Up to date employee information

Has someone on your staff changed their name, moved to a different city, or updated their phone number? Chances are it’ll happen eventually. And if your office consists of hundreds of people, this could potentially lead to numerous bottlenecks when trying to get a hold of the right person.

When your business utilities ESS portals, not only will your HR team not have to spend countless hours making sure this information is accurate, but the employee can update their personal information within the staff directory on their own time as it changes, ensuring it’s always correct. If there’s an error, they can update it in real time instead of having to send a message or email to HR to fix it on their behalf.

Transparency surrounding all information

At any point, an employee can log into the employee self service portal, look into the information stores, and confirm it’s authentic. Documents related to their own benefits, revisions to their salary or title, updates to company policy, and more, can all be stored in one place – making them easy to view at a moment’s notice.

Plus, information regarding leave and attendance records are accessible to all employees, meaning they won’t have to track down someone from your HR team with endless questions about if their time off was approved or if a particular person is out of the office.

“On HR’s end, it helps us to be transparent by documenting all of our policies and processes. Plus, it significantly cuts down on administrative time for us."

Dave Faulk
Director of Talent and Organizational Development at G2

Dave Faulk continued to share his thoughts on employee self service by adding, "On the employee’s end, it eliminates confusion and empowers them to get what they want when they need it, without having to wait for an HR representative to answer their request or question.” 

Also, sharing and highlighting company policy changes are easier than ever. Because it can be tough to alert all employees of changes manually, and handouts are usually found in the trash, an ESS can make alerting everyone of a change as easy as sending out a message or alert within the portal.

Boosted employee morale

In addition to time off forms and details on your company’s wellness programs, an employee self service system portal can also house an employee directory with a calendar for birthdays, work anniversaries, and other milestones. They can also serve as a place where employees and team members can communicate and share ideas and work together on similar projects.

An employee self service portal can be an all-in-one location for employees to interact with one another and improve relationships.

Drawbacks of employee self service

There’s no denying all of the advantages that ESS can bring to your organization, but you should be aware of some of the potential drawbacks, too.

Additional training

When your company first implements an ESS, it represents another software solution your employees will need to be trained on. There can be many different aspects, forms, and sections of the system, meaning training can take longer than you’re used to with other tools. Also, anyone within HR and IT will need additional training on the new system to help troubleshoot when issues arise or when team members have questions.

Tip: Be sure the tool you end up using has customer service or a help desk team that can answer questions after training. It’s also a good idea to create an FAQ handout of the ESS portal to eliminate employees consistently coming to HR or their managers with questions.

Human error

Like anything that is updated by a human instead of a machine, there’s a possibility for error. These errors could occur when information is being updated within personnel files, but also if the user is unfamiliar with the system and hasn’t gotten proper training.


An employee self service portal, just like every other application your company uses, is going to (usually) cost money. Take a look at your company’s software budget and narrow down the price range of an ESS that will streamline your processes without breaking the bank.

Setting up employee self service

Once you decide on a workforce management tool that encompasses employee self service, it’s time to set up your employees. Doing so is relatively simple after you’ve decided on an application.

First, the HR team should add documents to the ESS portal that you want all employees to have access to. Once they’re all forms related to policies and procedures, you’ll then create an account for each employee. You can create general passwords on their behalf and then stress that it’s up to them to set up a more secure password that they can remember.

Once they’re logged in, make sure each employee takes the time to check the accuracy of their information. Whether it’s in a meeting, an email, or an instructional document, explain to your employees what they can do within their ESS accounts, what they’ll be able to change, and what documents they can find at their disposal.

Be sure to refer to this portal anytime employees ask questions pertaining to HR and payroll, so they can get familiar with the portal and view it as their single source of truth. All HR managers and managers of other departments must work together to make employee utilization of the portal as common and widespread as possible.

More time for what matters

When utilized correctly, employee self service systems can make the daily role of an HR professional more streamlined. They will no longer be the go-between and be fielded with numerous requests to update personal information or be asked the same question numerous times regarding time-off requests.

Looking to make your office even more efficient? Discover the ins and outs of workforce planning and how you can keep your employees in line with business changes, goals, and missions.

workforce management
Get things running smoother

Find the right employee self service portal within workforce management software that your team will love.

workforce management
Get things running smoother

Find the right employee self service portal within workforce management software that your team will love.

Never miss a post.

Subscribe to keep your fingers on the tech pulse.

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to receive marketing communications from G2.