How to encourage self-service adoption with HR and Payroll software

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It takes her seven minutes to locate the caller’s holiday records and submit his leave request – plus two-and-a-half to hear about the family wedding he’s attending in Malaga, ‘Yes Brian, that does sound lovely’.

By the time she hangs up, she’s got half an hour before her deadline.

Right, back to it!

The phone rings again… she sighs before answering.

Sound familiar? It doesn’t have to be like this.

Once the domain of global enterprise with global budgets, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that the proliferation of affordable, cloud-based self-service platforms has been one of the most transformative shifts of recent times in HR and payroll delivery.

For large and small businesses, time is the most valuable currency. So it’s little surprise that so many of them are adopting self-service HR and payroll tools that automate time-consuming processes. Companies are drastically reducing the admin in HR and payroll administration and boosting productivity.

Direct employee access to the self-service portal means time-consuming enquiries no longer require personal attention from human resources staff. Using an employee self service (ESS) software to automate these tasks is a game-changer for HR and payroll efficiency.

So, employee self service is great, but only if people use it.

Putting the technology in place isn’t a guarantee that you’ll reap the benefits. The most unpredictable variable in any system implementation is its people.

This can manifest in a number of ways. People don’t like change. After years of doing things a certain way, a workforce’s entrenched practices can be tough to budge. Self-service can be tricky or even intimidating for the less tech-savvy. And some employees can find the transition from human contact to digital self service for their payroll and HR-related queries unsettling.

These are issues of inertia, change management challenges that we’ve helped hundreds of clients overcome to get the most out of employee self service software.

This is what we advise:

Choose your champions carefully

Some people will adapt to ESS better than others, be more accepting of new processes and adopt changes more easily. These people are your champions for promoting employee self service. Bring them into the implementation process early so they feel some ownership over the self-service technology.

Identifying the right champions is key. Characteristics you want to look for include a willingness to listen to new ideas; strong networking skills; a deep understanding of the organisation; and an ability and willingness to communicate with a range of people of varying seniority across the business. Ideally, your champions’ will be respected by their colleagues; they’ll be the ‘go to’ people and opinion formers.

Provide support that resonates

Being intuitive and user-friendly are two of our main principles in ESS system design. But regardless of how incredible your system’s self service tools and user experience are, people still need to be taught how to use them.

Rather than simply presenting instruction via email or through hurried lunch-time sessions, this can be used as an opportunity to boost adoption. The trick is ensuring that people understand how the new processes map to the human resources and payroll services they’ve come to expect, and crucially how the change benefits them.

Your champions can play a useful role here; have them run small group sessions in their own departments, demonstrating how core tasks can be completed and how using a self service portal can boost productivity. They should allow time for questions and discussion if possible.

Ongoing support will be required in the early days of a system implementation. Providing a helpdesk or dedicated support contact has a double benefit; it provides solutions during the change process and an agreed avenue for feedback to the HR department, but additionally it presents a human contact for people who might otherwise feel discomfited by the prospect of moving to a faceless self-service system for Payroll and HR.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

The thing businesses usually get right is the big launch; lots of internal marketing, email and intranet promotion, posters in the cafeteria, a note from the CEO in the internal newsletter. Making a big noise at the beginning is important for promoting new software for employee self service, but new processes don’t become habits overnight. Effective change management communication is more of a long-tail trickle than a single big splash.

Get your marketing hat on. Focus on the benefits the new system delivers to employees and identify stories that demonstrate what they look like in practice. For example, here are how some of the benefits can be linked to employees’ annual leave:

  • Employees can now instantly view how much holiday they have left
  • They can submit requests on the employee self service portal
  • Management can instantly access calendars and check for clashes
  • Requests are approved by line managers with just a couple of clicks

Employees will be encouraged to use the ESS if they can visualise how it will make life easier for them.

For example, workers are motivated by getting paid, so remind them of the benefits of having a self-service payroll system:

  • They have direct access to view payslips and payroll information at any time
  • Notifications let employees know when they can view their payslips
  • Their personal data and bank information is secure and held in software with built-in GDPR compliance
  • If their personal details or bank account information changes, they can log in and update payroll information themselves to ensure they don’t miss the next pay run
  • They can submit invoices, timesheets and expenses and have them quickly approved by a manager
  • There are fewer errors in employees’ pay when software automates payrolls

For the first six to nine months of an implementation, have a plan to communicate these benefits regularly to the workforce in several ways. This could include ‘Did you know’ emails, highlighting specific useful system functionality; public ‘thank you’ messages to teams or departments performing particularly well with the new system; and updating the boiler plate of all HR emails to link to key ‘how to’ resources on your business’ intranet.

Emphasise mobile benefits

Self-service HR and payroll software is even easier to use when it’s on employees’ mobile devices. Using a mobile app means that employees can access the employee portal whenever or wherever they are.

Encourage employees to download the app on their phones so they can access the self-service HR and payroll software on the go. 24/7 mobile access is a huge benefit for staff who previously may have had to wait hours or days for HR to reply to emails or answer queries.



Bottom line, the simpler you can make it, the more successful you’ll be. Make information easily discoverable and accessible. Make technical processes like log-in and password recovery simple and secure. And most of all, make sure people know what’s in it for them. Tell them, then tell them again, and again.

XCD’s systems maximise adoption by offering systems that provide simplicity, flexibility and a high-quality user experience.

To speak to one of our advisers about how to ease your workforce into an HR and payroll self-service system implementation, book a demo slot here.