Four ways a self-service HR system could streamline your processes
17 July 2018

Four ways a self-service HR system could streamline your processes

Find out how introducing self-service HR software could improve your ability to hire, train and manage staff


Cathryn Newbery

Cathryn Newbery

Cathryn Newbery is head of content and community at Ciphr. She was previously deputy editor at People Management magazine. You can find her on Twitter @c_newbery.


HR transformation Technology


Find out how introducing self-service HR software could improve your ability to hire, train and manage staff

While cost savings will always be a core part of the business case for introducing a new HR system, the longer-term benefits of streamlining and improving core people management processes are just as significant. Automating previously manual activities also generates data that can be used for a range of business intelligence needs, from day-to-day operational analysis to identifying and forecasting workforce trends.

And, because self-service tends to improve data accuracy – by eliminating data rekeying and empowering employees to manage their own data – it also improves the quality of the resulting analysis.

Here are four areas where HR teams can expect to feel the benefit after implementing a self-service system.

1. Recruitment

The benefits of implementing self-service recruitment software – usually referred to as applicant tracking systems (ATS) – brings benefits for hiring managers, HR teams, and candidates alike.

A good ATS will enable managers to track the progress of candidates’ applications, review CVs, and schedule interviews. Most ATS will enable you to screen applicants at an early stage in the process, either via specific ‘killer’ questions or even through video screening.

The associated efficiency gains can be significant, both in terms of minimising the amount of time managers spend on recruitment and reducing the number of days it takes to fill a vacancy. In turn, this improves your organisation’s ability to identify, interview and make offers to top talent, and the speed at which your new hire becomes a productive member of the team.

Candidates will also benefit from a better experience if you choose to introduce an ATS. They’ll be able to easily apply for posts via your website, and directly via social media platforms such as LinkedIn. Their self-service portal will enable them to monitor the status of their application, reducing the need for your HR team to contact them manually. Your system should also give you the option to request consent from applicants to hold their data, if you feel that consent is required to comply with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and give applicants access to the data you hold about them to satisfy subject access requests (SARs).

Bespoke recruitment software will also provide you with valuable metrics around your hiring process such as time to hire, the most effective advertising and job boards, and reporting on the diversity of applicants.

2. Employee development and performance management

HR self-service functionality can make a significant difference to the efficiency of L&D management, not least by imposing controls on the authorisation process through automated workflows.

But the potential benefits extend beyond process control. Giving staff and line managers access to training libraries and course outlines via a learning management system (LMS) often improves the chances of matching real need to supply, ensuring better use of training budgets.

Self-service also makes it easier to connect training administration with performance appraisals – tying together two disciplines that are closely associated in principle, but which can be poorly connected in practice.

Manual performance management processes tend to be front-loaded; a training request may be triggered after an appraisal, for example, but administrative delays and high workloads may mean that development programmes are not implemented fully. Introducing an online performance management system that enables you to log appraisal data and supporting information online – and set up automatic reminders for next steps – makes it more likely that line managers and staff alike will complete required actions.

3. Holiday and absence management

Self-service applications make it much easier for staff and managers to log, view and monitor sickness absence. This means absence data will be more accurate, which is crucial for managing long-term absence and putting in place appropriate wellbeing support and interventions for affected staff members.

The software will also enable employees to track and book their annual leave, and managers to approve holiday requests and see their team’s availability.

4. A tool for flexible working

While much of the focus on increased calls for flexible working has been on challenges related to organisational culture and line management, there are also significant IT implications. Ensuring that home and remote workers can access the same self-service HR functionality as their office-based colleagues is essential. It’s also important to consider how non-desk-based staff can access your HR self service system; modern software should be available on internet-connected mobile devices, too.

Points To Consider

As with any software implementation, if you choose to introduce self-service HR there will be some upfront implementation fees and ongoing subscription costs.

During the transition to self-service HR, staff may need extra support from HR as they get used to the system and doing tasks themselves. In many cases, it may make sense in the short term for HR employees to spend more time than normal helping out a user, because this will reduce their need for support in the future.

While modern self-service HR software can be accessed via desktop computers and mobile devices, you might need to consider if non-desk-based staff will need extra support or equipment to access the system.

And, although introducing self-service technology will typically alleviate the administrative burden on your HR team, it’s worth bearing in mind that it may not lead to a reduction in headcount. You might find that your team was overloaded with work before the system’s introduction, and afterwards, they are able to devote more time to tasks that were previously being pushed to one side. You might even be able to reshape some roles to have a more strategic, value-adding focus.

Finally, you might find that employees and line managers expect a higher level of service from your HR team, whether that’s in terms of quicker response times or more involvement in high-level organisational initiatives. Service improvements should be assessed in the context of the broader organisational impact, whether that’s reducing opportunity cost by cutting the number of time managers spend on recruitment administration, or improving talent acquisition by making the online job application process smoother.

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