Third-generation self-service will benefit all employees
The third wave of employee self-service is on us, says Sybille McCloghrie, group business development director at COSA. Traditional self-service relied on delivery via the Web, kiosks and cellphone channels. The third generation will not only benefit computer-literate and tech-savvy employees, but all personnel.
The first generation of employee self-service (ESS) saw staff being given limited access via the Web to selected HR and payroll information. The second generation bulked up what was delivered by the first wave, and expanded delivery to alternate channels.
Traditional self-service via the Web, kiosks and cellphone channels is complex and requires staff to be tech-savvy, putting the benefits of ESS beyond the reach of many employees around the world, including many in SA. The third generation will make ESS available to the whole workforce.
The Promotion of Access to Information Act (Proatia) now makes it law to make information reasonably available to many third-parties, including employees. They have the right to ask for any information pertaining to themselves and an employer cannot deny any reasonable request. Employers will have to gear themselves up for this by implementing processes that grant employees access to their own information.
Research has shown that a large portion of an employee`s interaction with the HR department regards payslips and queries resulting from their delivery. Employers incur substantial costs procuring, producing and distributing payslips, not to mention the costs incurred answering the resulting queries. Further costs are incurred producing copy payslips for employees and answering queries about income and employment for third-parties.
Studies show that the real cost of delivering a payslip ranges from as much as R15 to as little as R1.50. This is the compound cost of procurement, production, labour and distribution, but it excludes other administration costs.
Costs can be reduced to under R1 each if an employer chooses to outsource these functions. Cost savings of 30% - 80% are envisaged for employers which go the outsource route. A further benefit is they will not have to produce copy payslips or answer queries about income and employment.
Payslips can be delivered via e-mail to employees who have e-mail access, as the Electronic Communications and Transactions (ECT) Act now makes it legal to do so.
Employees without e-mail access can still benefit, as they can provide copy payslips and proof of income and employment to third-parties by means of a call centre, after validating their identity. Information that can be delivered to the third-party includes banking and address details. This means employers no longer need to deal with high volumes of queries.
Outsourcing means employees can request copies of their payslips and other information for up to seven years after they were issued. This satisfies an employer`s legal compliance requirements with the terms of Proatia and with SARS.
This type of system also provides a method of dealing with queries and applications such as leave requests and loans in a simpler way than before. This means employers do not need to go through costly process re-engineering efforts, and employees gain access to information such as personal details, payslips, leave calendars, banking details and employment history.
Value-added services such as targeted education can also be provided when using an outsource function. Payslip "stuffers" can target selected employees with educational material. Employees can be educated on topics such as HIV/AIDS, tax, retirement, healthcare and company policies and procedures.
The process of delivering these benefits is extremely short and cost-effective compared with traditional self-service. Employers can start benefiting from these services within a month, compared to years with first- and second-generation self-service products.
Employers also start enjoying real cost reductions and reduce the resources required to provide copy payslips and answer income and employment queries.
Research has shown that first- and second-generation employee self-service systems are only suited to medium to large organisations, while third-generation self-service is suitable for small and large employers alike.
All of this means third-generation self-service is a compelling new wave, one which will bring manifold benefits to businesses and their employees.