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How HR self-service tools can save time for small businesses

Learn how self-service tools can help HR professionals to save time, while empowering employees, meaning there's more time to focus on value-add tasks.

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As an employer managing HR tasks or someone working as an HR professional, it’s likely that your duties can often be quite a challenge. There are many everyday tasks you must fulfill, from inputting new hire information to dealing with paid time off (PTO) requests and entering performance data.

No doubt you’re often time poor – and that’s where self-service HR tools can come in, helping to streamline your everyday processes.

In this article, we look at how self-service tools can help with everyday tasks, from arranging interviews to requesting shift changes, so you can focus on tasks that add more value to the business.

How self-service tools can help to streamline processes

Using HR self-service tools can save money, empower employees and improve productivity.

According to a recent trends study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs six to nine months’ salary on average.

Employee self-service and manager self-service tools can be used effectively to streamline paperwork, emails, tickets, and requests that HR professionals deal with on a daily basis, therefore reducing the processing time of an admin task from a very lengthy one to a short time.

Employee self-service tools can also be used for the following, among other essential tasks:

  • Onboarding new hires
  • Reviewing documents
  • Updating personal information
  • Performance-related information

Not only will employee self-service tools reduce your admin, they’ll improve your efficiency and that of the HR team, while also increasing the productivity of your workforce.

How you self-serve in their everyday lives – and how HR professionals can follow suit

You self-serve in your everyday life without even thinking about it, be it at a self checkout at the supermarket or by using your online banking to move funds from one account to another.

And take booking a vacation, as another example. Once you’ve decided where to go on your break, you can personally do the following online using individual company websites or global aggregators, such as Expedia:

  • Book the hotel online
  • Check in at the airport
  • Check in to the hotel
  • Rent a car
  • Make restaurant reservations
  • Book sightseeing tours

However, in the past it wasn’t that simple.

You would have to make an appointment with a travel agent or pick up brochures before booking your summer vacation or winter break.

Then when you got to the airport, you would need to manually check in and show your passport before going through security and boarding the plane.

Once you had arrived at the hotel, you would need to check in at the front desk.

In the same way you can self-serve to book a vacation, you can use self-service tools as part of your HR processes to speed things up and remove laborious admin processes.

Benefits to the entire workforce

Employee self-serve tools don’t just benefit HR teams. They can benefit the entire workforce by allowing employees to manage their time off and have direct access to their employment records.

This control gives employees a greater sense of responsibility and trust.

Gone are the days where PTO forms were submitted, only for them to be rejected two weeks later because another member of the team got there beforehand.

It’s all about putting the power into the hands of the employee; allowing them to manage their time off accordingly gives them a greater sense of accountability.

The higher the morale, the higher the productivity rate.

How self-service tools can empower employees

Research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services highlights the link between empowering front-line employees such as doctors and banking relationship managers, and organizational performance.

The report – The New Decision Makers: Equipping Front-line Workers for Success – analyzes the sentiments of 464 business executives from 16 industry sectors in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

The study found organizations will be more successful when front-line workers are empowered to make important decisions in the moment – but the reality is few are equipping their workers with the resources to do so.

Only one-fifth of organizations say they currently have a truly empowered and digitally equipped workforce, while 86% agree their front-line workers need better technology and more insight to be able to make good decisions in the moment.

Front-line employees stand to benefit the most from resources such as communication and collaboration tools, and self-service analytics.

Respondents across the board strongly believe that both work quality and productivity will increase as more data-based insights are made available to such workers.

Specifically, 92% say the quality of work of front-line employees in their organization would improve in the long term, and 73% say it would improve in the short term as well, according to an article in HR News.

Key areas where self-service tools can help

HR self-service tools can be beneficial when managing time sheets (especially if a company has freelancers and contractors on their payroll), filing expenses and the recruitment of individuals. Here are other areas where they can help your business.


Completing payroll duties on a monthly or daily basis can often be time-consuming and stressful – due to the potential of inaccuracies while manually inputting data.

If payroll is not completed effectively and employees are not paid on time, a company could lose valuable staff, contractors, or part-time employees essential to the business.

The value of a good payroll has a wide-reaching, long-term impact.

Benefits administration

Managing standard benefits such as health, dental, life, and disability insurance, retirement plans, tuition reimbursement, and tax-advantaged flexible spending accounts is a long-standing function of core HR.

In recent years, many companies have begun to move these functions off premises to software as a service (SaaS) employee benefits providers.

New health insurance platforms and wellness portals take healthcare beyond these basics to provide online access to fitness communities, medical advice and providers.


HR departments are responsible for keeping an organization compliant with the many regulations affecting employment, from anti-discrimination laws to workplace health and safety.

Some HR self-service tools can now enable employees to conduct their own health and safety assessments on anything from remote working to social distancing measures on a construction site or in a factory.

This allows employees to collect information and identify issues, quickly and at scale, saving HR professionals a huge amount of stress and admin.

Employee self-service

Enabling employees to change their personal information, benefit choices, and beneficiaries instead of asking a member of the HR team to do it can save time and money.

Employee engagement and recognition

Employee surveys are a popular tool for measuring and boosting employee engagement. The most helpful software solutions have a large selection of pre-made surveys with cross-tabulation capabilities. Ease of use is again key.


As remote working and social distancing become the new normal, it has become more important than ever to look out for the well-being of employees.

This can be done via the creation of a well-being hub, which can feature information and guidance on a range of financial, mental, and physical well-being topics.

Hiring and onboarding new employees

The average cost to hire a new employee is $4,129.

That figure doesn’t include the time spent on onboarding.

The onboarding process equips new employees with the required information, knowledge, tools, and resources to understand an organization’s culture, people, processes, and practices. All of which takes time.

On average, the process of onboarding an employee can take four hours.

Adopting self-service tools in the onboarding process can save your company time and money.

Conclusion on self-service tools

One of the biggest pains that employers and HR professionals have is dealing with too much admin.

They can save time by getting employees to self-serve and input their own information into an HR portal rather than the HR team doing so.

A lot of businesses still rely on paper as the main source for capturing information from their employees, resulting in hours wasted on labor-intensive, morale-destroying data entry.

HR self-service tools that populate employee information remove the requirement for data entry (and verifying) and eliminates the need for bulky filing and wasted paper.

From banking to supermarkets, almost every industry has seen a shift towards technology that enables customers to serve themselves, providing flexibility for customers and cost reduction for companies.

In addition, by having an easy to use self-service HR tool, freelancers, employees, and contractors can review documents in the comfort of their own home, avoid misplacing pay stubs or employee handbooks, and inquire about low urgency but important personal matters.