Self-service is part of our daily lives, so why not use it in human resources? An employee self-service portal gives workers the ability to manage their personal data, payroll, benefits and even to complete open enrollment. If your employee self-service portal can’t perform all these functions, you may need to reconsider your options.

What is an Employee Self-Service Portal or ESS?

An ESS portal is a feature available within most Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS). An HRIS provides core HR functions and helps you track, measure and automate employee tasks to optimize operations. An HRIS functions as a database at the center of your organization, tying information—like payroll, benefits, attendance and other related data—to individuals. It also handles recruiting, tax compliance, personnel tracking and reporting. Think of an HRIS as the engine that powers your entire HR vehicle. An ESS portal allows employees to drive that HR vehicle, instead of just being a passenger.

An ESS portal is a web-based tool that allows employees to access their information in the system. Payroll, benefits, personal data and tax documents are all typically accessible to employees through a self-service portal. An employee can use an ESS portal to request time off, change their payroll withholding tax amount and update their personal information if they move or have another life change. The capabilities of an ESS portal are only limited by the HRIS. For example, some HRISs may only allow employees to access their paystubs or request time off while other systems allow employees to partake in open enrollment through an ESS portal.

What are the Benefits of an ESS Portal?

The idea of putting HR services on a company-wide intranet has been around for a couple of decades. HR administrators were able to reduce or eliminate paper by putting employee documents and information online. documents are uploaded to the system. An ESS portal offers more benefits than just a reduction in paper.

How ESS Portals Benefit Companies

An ESS portal can raise your stature.

Employees are familiar with using portals in other areas of their lives, whether it is through a doctor’s office, bank or online marketplaces. The fact that their employer offers the same, if not more, access gives the impression they work for a forward-thinking company. On the flip side, if your ESS portal is lacking, your employees will notice.

Costs are reduced.

The cost, both in time and money, of handing out information to employees—think benefits packages, updated policy manuals, pay stubs and more—are reduced or eliminated with an ESS portal. This information can be revised and uploaded in seconds, giving employees immediate access.

Data errors are a thing of the past.

ESS portals give employees control over their data. They input their personal information, their bank routing numbers or withholding amounts, eliminating any input errors by HR. When employees are responsible, it puts compliance on their shoulders, like providing the IRS with correct, up-to-date information. Plus, as ESS portals provide a single point of entry, with everything in one place, instead of being spread out across multiple files.

How ESS Portals Benefit Employees

Quick access to essential information.

Employees who need to see how much their health insurance deductible is or if their PTO was approved can find the information in one place, saving time. No longer will employees have to hunt through stacks of paperwork or multiple intranet pages.

The power to change their information.

Being able to take control of their information empowers employees. They don’t have to wait for HR to adjust personal information or take the time to walk paperwork down to the HR office.

ESS portals provide company transparency.

Employees don’t want to be left in the dark when it comes to company communication. Having access to company information increases employee confidence in their employer. And companies reap the benefits of improved communication because employee satisfaction levels rise.

ESS Portals Help with Efficiency

One of the biggest benefits of an ESS portal is the efficiency it offers. When HR departments are more efficient, they have more time for strategic pursuits.

ESS Portals are Time Savers

HR departments have a lot on their plates, especially right now with COVID-19 challenges. ESS portals allow employees to access HR services that HR staff would otherwise have to provide. When HR doesn’t have to spend time on administrative tasks, e.g., updating addresses, benefits dependents and printing paystubs, they can focus more time and resources on improving the department and furthering the company’s goals.

Examples of time-consuming administrative tasks include:

  • Providing pay stubs, either through email or mail
  • Printing federal and state withholding forms
  • Updating banking information for direct deposit
  • Providing employees with information on their employment status or rate of pay
  • Adjusting healthcare benefits like adding dental or increasing HSA contributions
  • Changing personal data, like an address or marital status
  • Manually entering time worked
  • Scheduling time to go over open enrollment paperwork

Open enrollment is one of the more important yet also more time-consuming tasks for HR. Not only are health care options an important benefit for employees, maintaining a plan is required for many companies. As per the Affordable Care Act, employers with 50 or more full-time employees must provide healthcare benefits.

An ESS portal that provides open enrollment capabilities can streamline the process by allowing employees to make their own selections and calculations, based on employer-directed options. Many of these can be integrated with feeds from an organization’s HRIS to ensure information is up-to-date and to connect to interrelated payroll. This benefit not only saves a huge amount of time, but it keeps you compliant as well.

Saving Time Leads to Increased Productivity

ESS portals help to increase productivity for both HR and employees. Consider how much time is saved when employees spend less time looking for the information they need or when HR spends less time on administrative tasks. Hours? Days? Research has shown that nearly 50% of an HR department’s time is spent processing employee information and responding to frequently asked questions. All of that extra time can be funneled towards meeting strategic goals.

ESS portals give employees the ability to complete HR required tasks without stopping to take multiple phone calls or fill out paperwork. And when employers are more productive, they’re more engaged, leading to lower turnover rates.

According to HR Technologist, ESS portals can optimize efficiency, manage costs and ensure compliance by:

  • Giving employees convenient 24/7 access
  • Supporting modern identity verification for employees, such as biometric
  • Integrating with existing payroll and time and attendance software
  • Supporting compliance at every level, from Family Medical Leave Act claims, mealtime rules to filling out workplace safety forms

Using ESS Portals for Onboarding

ESS portals can also handle HR onboarding, even virtual onboarding. New employees can log in from anywhere to fill out paperwork, view policies and upload important documents. An ESS portal is part of a strong, web-based onboarding process which helps new hires acclimate to their jobs quickly and efficiently.

An ESS portal helps streamline the onboarding process by:

  • Tracking and monitoring new hires throughout the process
  • Eliminating paperwork so employees can onboard anywhere
  • Offering personalized content, like access to schedules and employee information
  • Giving employees access to online handbooks and policies, and requiring them to digitally sign after reading them
  • Educating new employees on available benefits like healthcare, vacation, compensation and so on
  • Inviting employees to enroll in a healthcare plan
  • Automatically setting up payroll information, including bank information for direct deposit

Arcoro’s Core HR module not only keeps central HR recordkeeping and essential compliance documents in order—laying a solid foundation for orderly HR operations, from benefits management to time tracking and payroll—but features an ESS portal that integrates with all of its modules. Employees can log in anytime to request PTO and sick leave, submit expense reports, view benefits statements and paystubs and more.

Arcoro’s Onboarding software ensures new employees are ready before day one with a 100% paperless, cloud-based system featuring an ESS portal that walks new employees through the entire process. Visit our solutions pages to learn more.