How to overcome inertia and get employee self-service off to a flying start

Employee self-service is a key element – and indeed one of the biggest benefits – of an HR software system. It spells the end of constant calls from employees wanting to know how much annual leave they have left and what they need to do if they’re off sick – not to mention the mind-numbing admin associated with updating people’s contact information and chasing up overdue forms or stalled approval processes.

The ability to manage their own personal data is also something employees – particularly those from the Millennial generation – have come to expect. In an era where they can co-ordinate everything from their car insurance to their mortgage payments via their tablet or mobile phone, they expect the same level of accessibility when it comes to managing work-related personal admin too.

Employee self-service will, however, only deliver the full benefits to the organisation if people actually use it. So how can you overcome the inertia (and occasionally outright resistance) that people often have to embracing new systems and make sure you reap the full rewards of your investment?

Provide an early warning

People are less likely to enthusiastically adopt a new system if it is imposed on them overnight without any notice. A pre-launch communication campaign will ensure everyone is aware of the new system and what it means they will need to do differently. At a time when there are so many emails competing for attention in people’s in-boxes, a single all-staff email won’t cut it. The best approach is to organise a phased programme of communication in the lead-up to launch, so that everyone knows what to expect and has plenty of time to get used to the idea of a different approach.

Explain the benefits

Making sure people understand why the new system has been introduced – and most importantly what’s in it for them – is key to getting good take up. Organisations often fall into the trap of explaining the organisational benefits but overlooking the personal. Emphasise that self-service will speed up the process of checking their holiday entitlements and getting time-off approved, for example, so that people can finalise their plans in good time. Encourage employees to make use of the HR software’s mobile apps – the interface is often more intuitive because it feels like something they use every day, and everyone appreciates the freedom that comes with being able to check time off entitlements and request or authorise leave from anywhere at any time. You could also point out how much quicker and easier it will be for people to update their details if they change their bank account or phone number, for example, or want to update emergency contact information. employee self-service

Recruit ambassadors

Every organisation has people who are open to change and enthusiastic adopters of new systems – and those who prefer to stay in the comfort zone of the tried and tested. If you want to get employee self-service off to a flying start, you could consider pro-actively recruiting the former as ‘ambassadors’ for the new system. Try identifying at least one person in each department or team who will pick up the new system quickly and be prepared to sell the benefits to their colleagues and ‘hand hold’ those who are reluctant through the early stages of implementation.

Offer training

Employee self-service systems are generally easy to use. Don’t assume, however, that everyone is prepared to work it out for themselves. You could consider holding lunchtime drop-in sessions where people can familiarise themselves with the new system and ‘have a go’ with the help of one of the HR team. If feasible, you could also offer to visit team or departmental meetings, so that you can demonstrate how the system will work and answer any questions or concerns.

Don’t let people off the hook

When people are busy, they often feel they just don’t have the time or energy to get to grips with a new system – especially if they feel the old way worked quite well enough thank you. In the early days, the HR team is likely to be on the receiving end of emails from stressed employees asking if you could ‘do it for them’. The temptation is to help people out ‘just this once’ – but that’s a rocky road. Give in once and you will find that people keep coming back. Obviously, a point-blank refusal to provide any assistance won’t go down well. Reiterate the availability of ‘how to’ instructions, and if that doesn’t work, offer to sit alongside someone while they use the system for the first time. Once people have got over the barrier of initial familiarisation, they will realise just how easy it is and hopefully won’t come knocking on the door again.

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