Employee self-service is now a critical technology for workplaces. It serves two purposes: a) it empowers employees to perform routine tasks at their convenience, and b) it saves HR the time and manpower that would be otherwise spent on repetitive tasks, frequently resolving queries, and processing documents. 78% of workplaces have already instituted some form of employee self-service technology – and the number is expected to rise steadily in the next two years.
However, implementing the system is only half the battle. Like most workplace amenities (for example, benefits, learning and development, and career planning) the success of employee self-service hinges on its adoption by employees.
What is Preventing Employee Self-Service Adoption
Despite the clear benefits of adopting ESS (for employees) and MSS (for managers), adoption often fails to keep up with implementation speeds. The primary reason for this is that the workforce isn’t clear on the value addition from self-service systems. Other challenges include:
The tasks completed via self-service – attendance, leave requests, employee information updates, expense claims, and the like – have always been conducted in analog formats. Employees used to this mode of working might find it difficult to switch to digital.
Not all employee demographics are positioned alike on the digital readiness curve. For instance, 71% of millennials agree that technology is a must-have in organizations where they work, versus 66% of Gen-X-ers and 53% of Baby Boomers. Further, over half of millennials use cloud-based or online tools for document management, in comparison to just 33% of Baby Boomers. Accordingly, the willingness to adopt self-service will differ from employee to employee.
L&D (learning and development) is a major supporting pillar for any transformation initiative. Employee self-service implementation must be accompanied by pre-, during-, and post-rollout training sessions to prepare the workforce and ensure they are familiar with the new system. Without this, adoption rates will struggle to rise.
The human touch continues to be essential for the HR function. 40-45% of employees still prefer face-to-face interactions for many tasks, reports PwC. Employee self-service may be seen as an attempt to bring in automation, replacing human-focused personalization.
Nonetheless, self-service has the potential to simplify work life for employees. Just as we turn to Google for online how-to guides to solve issues with consumer goods before contacting customer service, employees are eager to self-resolve workplace problems wherever possible.
How to Increase Employee Self-Service Adoption
Interestingly, technology impact can be enhanced by the strategic use of digital tools. HR should explore how the newest advancements in UX design, change management, L&D, and internal marketing can aid in adoption. Here are four ideas to boost employee self-service adoption in the digital era:
Adopt design thinking in the planning stage. Organizations often make the error of selecting technology solutions based on business goals, without factoring in employee needs and desires. This only leads to low ROI and sunk costs in the long term. Design thinking in HR implies involving employee focus groups in the planning stage, rolling out the new systems in stages, and reviewing for adoption. This will ensure that the user experience is perfectly attuned to what employees prefer, shortening the learning curve.
Deploy change management strategies and tools. Change management is integral to any digital transformation project, and employee self-service is no different. In fact, because this system aims for the widest possible reach and adoption, change management is even more critical. In addition to change management strategies, there are also digital tools available using chatbots to guide employees, analytics to assess change impact, and continuous learning to address common issues.
Offer formalized training on employee self-service adoption. Training can be disseminated in three forms: • Post-implementation training immediately after the system is launched • Refresher training after updates, and at regular intervals to iron out problems • Training during onboarding new recruits to familiarize them with employee self-service from day one
Organizations could employ in-house coaches from their IT/HR teams to conduct these sessions. Several vendors such as Intellective provide employee self-service training as part of (or as an add-on to) software deployment.
Share a continuous stream of internal marketing materials. Awareness is probably the first step towards adoption. HR must regularly communicate the availability of employee self-service across the workforce, explain various functionalities, detail FAQs, and demonstrate the value addition of ESS systems through internal marketing promotions.
In for the Long Haul: Bringing Attitudinal Change
Resistance to change, reflected in poor employee self-service adoption, is fundamentally about prevailing attitudes. Employees may perceive the new system as “not useful,” time-consuming, or simply another organizational protocol for them to follow.
This is why, along with the methods mentioned above, HR should deploy regular employee surveys, soliciting feedback on the ease of adoption and problems they encounter. This could also be complemented by sentiment analytics, which looks out for negative words, identifying hesitation and indicating where human intervention might be necessary.
Together, a robust change management strategy, requisite digital tools, and timely efforts from the HR team can ensure employee self-service adoption, both in the “here and now,” as well as in the long term.
Intellective’s Employee Experience Pack sits on top of ServiceNow to deliver a personalized and unified employee engagement experience where you can integrate data across software platforms to deliver a world class employee experience with a high adoption rate.
Below are some of the benefits you get from the Employee Experience Pack:
Replace legacy or expensive intranets in a matter of days or weeks
A built-in kudos app that makes it easy to recognize employees
Access information across the entire organization in one place using the Employee Experience Pack tools for ServiceNow
AI driven recommendations to personalize the experience
Contextual search to make it easy for employee to find what they need in one click