Help Yourself! A Guide for Self-Service at Work

Today, information and content are everywhere. We spend countless hours sifting through endless media channels searching for updates on our favourite celebrities, sports teams, TV shows, the list goes on. It can take endless scrolling for us to feel satisfied with the information we have, to feel like we’re up to date, and to feel like we know what we need to.

Most employees cannot afford the same luxury in the workplace. Most need information quickly, and busy work schedules don’t allow for taking ‘too much time’ (whatever that may be) to find information they are looking for. The end result always seems to be the same – phone the helpdesk or ask a friendly face.

This is quite different from the choices we make when looking to find information outside of the workplace. We pull information by asking Google, by talking to Alexa, or refreshing our social media apps. Imagine if employees could access workplace information in a similar way. It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen without the appetite to change employee behaviour, but it might be closer than you think. A step towards self-service is a step towards changing key aspects of your organisation’s culture.

Let’s look at an example. Take an employee who is recently married. As a significant life event, this usually enables an employee to update their benefits outside of an annual enrolment cycle. It should, of course, be an extremely happy time and a time of celebration. But poor information, processes, and procedures can turn something so positive outside of the workplace into something so laborious within it. In an ideal world, employees would easily be able to access information and understand the options available to them, and the process for updating their benefits. They would be able to do this quickly and easily themselves. More often than not, it is a case of guesswork trying to understand what’s needed to do and as a result there becomes a burden on HR with increased query volumes as employees take the quicker and easier route of reaching out for help.

If we consider this across the realm of HR as a function, and a whole manner of HR processes and procedures, the effects of additional query volumes can be detrimental. It has the potential to create many unnecessary distractions and require HR to hand-hold employees, rather than provide more valuable, strategic services.

Given employees are expected to comply with HR processes and procedures on top of their daily workload, it does not seem unfair for them to ask in return for the right information in the right place to help them understand what’s required. After all, it’s in the interest of HR to reduce the burden through helping employees help themselves.

How can organisations begin to implement a self-service model?

  1. Ask your employees: Understand where they regularly receive information, along with the best sources for content in your organisation. Find out the information they want to see, how they want to see it, and carry out user research to design the right information architecture.
  2. Analyse your service centre: First, examine query volume trends around subject areas. Look to introduce new and improved information where query volumes are high, to enable employees to self-serve, and identify opportunities to re-define difficult processes to suit your employees.
  3. Actively manage your content: Look at the current-state process for creating, maintaining, and updating HR information. In your content, use language that your users understand, steering clear of jargon. Consider how you personalise information and target towards specific employees, perhaps within different regions.

Against this backdrop, it’s important to consider the role that technology plays. From portals and intranet sites, to HRIS and case management tools, each can aid the journey towards employee self-service. Technology will likely play an even bigger part in the future with the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) resulting in more innovative ways of connecting employees to information. By applying technology and a mindset of self-service, organisations can promote a culture of change that enables employee adoption as systems, technologies, and processes evolve to keep pace with innovation.

How does your organisation deal with the challenge of employee self-service? Are you able to provide up-to-date, accurate, and relevant information to your employees? Are you helping your employees or are you helping them help themselves? These are the questions that will enable your HR organisation to achieve greater value through employee self-service.