When Self-Service isn’t


It happens every year, somewhere around the time employees get there W-2’s.  The call comes in, “I moved back in May and forgot to update my tax information. Can you change it and reissue the W-2?”

Around here, our payroll teams routinely have the request to retroactively correct time entered (or not) into the system.

Self-Service is rolled out to empowered our workforce so they can quickly make changes to their data, report their time or make requests.  We do this as a value add for our employees, but cost is also a real driver behind this.  It costs more to have payroll enter the time or to make those address changes than it does for the employee to do it through a web portal.  But what happens when the employee doesn’t hold up their end of the deal?  When they don’t enter their time correctly or fail to update their W-4 data after a move?

The success of any Self Service tool is dependent on many things, but employee accountability is often over-looked.  When employees aren’t held accountable to policies and procedures, we can quickly see the envisioned efficiencies slip through our fingers like so much sand. When preparing our Self-Service tools, we need to remember to work with our HR teams to revise our policies to reflect the employee accountability factor, and that will help.

We all know though, that there will be those employees that just don’t follow the rules or will be repeat offenders.  Again, this is where HR comes in.  It should be decided up front how those situations will be addressed.  For some transactions, there may be such low volume that it won’t matter, we’ll just deal with it as they come up.  For others, the amount of time that can be wasted by making corrections for those repeat offenders is truly a costly proposition and steps need to be taken to encourage employee accountability.

When employees routinely cause others in the organization to do extra work to correct their mistake or fail to follow company process, it can be considered a performance issue and there shouldn’t be a double standard for payroll & HR transactions compared to other company policies.

At a former job, I was a salaried employee but as a consultant, I needed to report my time for billing purposes.  The first time the new process was put into place, I failed to follow it and didn’t get my time in by the cut-off.  The following Friday was pay-day and lo and behold, I didn’t have a check.  It was explained to me very clearly that if I don’t report my time, they can’t bill.  If they can’t bill, I don’t get paid.  You better believe my time was submitted early from their on out.

That may be a bit harsh for some organizations, but the point is that we need to consider how we are going to enforce our policies around self-service to ensure its success.

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