survey_says-3The women in my family have faithfully passed down a very special skill from generation to generation. While other families pass down amazing cooking skills or timeless gardening capabilities, my family passes down bargain hunting. The polite terms are “frugal” and “thrifty,” but to each successive generation, the women of my family teach their bargain-hunting shopping skills—the art of tirelessly tracking down the best quality products at the lowest prices no matter the miles walked. I bring this up to share that shopping for my family is truly a sport. Needless to say that a few years back when I shared with my family that I no longer went bargain hunting, but preferred the experience of shopping online (particularly through Amazon Prime for most of my family’s needs), they were horrified. Sure, I paid a little more, but the experience of shopping online was so superior for me that I simply changed my habits almost overnight.

What is so great about the online shopping experience for me?

  • One-stop shopping
  • Time savings
  • Product comparisons
  • Peer reviews
  • Free shipping
  • No-hassle returns
  • Bonus: free streaming video library

It’s the experiences, outcomes, and return for my efforts that prompted me to change my behavior. When you think about your latest interaction with any systems that fall under the HR Technology umbrella, was that interaction compelling enough to cause a behavior change? Were you happy with the experience, the outcome, and what you got in return?
The Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey, now in its 18th year, has tracked the deployment and adoption of service delivery technologies across HR systems for years. As we shifted the focus of HR technology from capturing legal and administrative data, to providing communications and HR services, we began to place more attention on the end-user experiences. With every screen and output of today’s modern HR system, a service interaction is taking place. For each employee, the service interaction encompasses the ease of access, interface look and feel, and total process workflow—and consumer technology sets these expectations. On the other hand, an employee’s individual needs and motivators set the expectations for desired outcomes and return on effort.
This broader concept of HR self service crosses every area of HR Technology, but our research has specifically looked at four major categories of HR system environments that play a major part in an organization’s ability to deliver on their service-delivery expectations:

  • Employee self service: 74% adoption
  • Manager self service; 47% adoption
  • Help-desk and case management solutions: 44% adoption
  • Lifecycle management/onboarding: 32% adoption

Isn’t it just about efficiency?
In the past, these solutions were separately implemented in the HR technology stack—and each year, we saw a slow-but-steady increase in the number of organizations that adopted these technologies. Initially, deploying these technologies was viewed as a way to improve the efficiency of an HR function. For the last several years, our research has confirmed this theory: those organizations with a higher percentage of employee and manager self-service user adoption serve 10% more employees with the same HR administrative headcount than those without those technologies. Organizations that implement self-service technology within a shared services function and add HR Help Desk technology serve 31% more workforce per HR Administrative staff. This combination of technologies, along with a shared services function, delivers the highest level of HR efficiency for an enterprise.
Efficiency is always a positive outcome—but if that was the primary goal for HR organizations, then why hasn’t everyone with an HRMS deployed their self-service capabilities for managers? Honestly, only 47% of the 1,063 organizations we surveyed last year had rolled out manager self service. I’ve asked several organizations that chose not to roll out manager self service what the issue is and their answers usually break down into these buckets:

  • The experience isn’t optimal for our managers.
  • We don’t trust our managers with the work.
  • Their time is too valuable.

These organizations felt that the current manager self-service environments don’t support easy use, good decision-making, or quick access.
What happens if we add Mobile Delivery?
If the focus is on the experiences and not just efficiencies, then we need to look at other ways to measure the impact of our HR self-service technologies such as service level agreements, customer satisfaction ratings, and business outcomes. When we look at organizations that also have high levels of mobile HRMS adoption combined with self-service and help desk technologies, we find a 49% increase in the overall user experience scores for the HRMS. In other words, adding mobile access that made it easier and more convenient for managers and employees to retrieve their information and get help seems to make a big difference in the organization’s overall perception of the HR technologies. This isn’t simply accessing a web-based version of these technologies on a mobile device, but rather mobile-enabled processes that are tailored to the mobile environment with responsive-design interfaces that interact differently based on the accessing devices. Remember that Experience, Outcome, and Return thing?
Honestly, what does the Workforce think?
Last year, Sierra-Cedar also conducted an Employee Feedback Survey on HR self-service[i] applications for our annual research effort; this survey was delivered by several large global organizations to their HR system end-users and line managers. We were able to capture data from workforces in 46 countries, from workers in hundreds of different roles across multiple industries. All of these organizations had an Employee Self-Service and Manager Self-service Solution in place. A couple of key findings from this outreach:

  • 92% of employees actually completed at least one employee self-service task online.
  • 32% of Asia employees and 35% of Europe employees did not know that they had the ability to swap shifts or change withholdings online, compared to 18% of the US employees.
  • Employees were most likely to contact their manager to request vacation and sick leave time, versus using an employee self-service tool or contacting HR.
  • The most frequently executed task by employees on a mobile device was to manage work-related connections.
  • Submitting job postings had the lowest user experience scores from managers.
  • Asia-Pacific millennial supervisors were the most likely to call HR versus using manager self-service HR tools.

Let me note that this is not a statistically significant sample of employees worldwide, but it was statistically significant for each of our participating organizations. This data is not only indicative of what your employees might be doing as well, but it also gives us some insight into the outcomes and experiences they might be lacking, and where they are finding some value in the transactions for themselves.
We have come so far in our approach to HR system environments, but our data says that we have further yet to go. My hope is that some day when I ask the question, “Was your HR system interaction compelling enough to change your behavior?” the answer will be yes.
You may have noticed that we’ve taken some time off of our Survey Says articles as we’ve been preparing the Sierra-Cedar 2015-2016 HR Systems Survey, now open through July 1st. If our Annual HR Systems Survey White Paper and articles have been valuable to you and your colleagues, we ask that you participate. If you are struggling with your own enterprise HR systems strategy and plans, we recommend that you participate. If you complete the entire Survey this year, you not only receive my undying gratitude, but a “snapshot” analysis tailored by size, region, or industry for your organization, as well as some fun reward opportunities.
To access previous Survey Says articles that contain unpublished Survey data nuggets, please visit our website; for our full HR Systems Survey White Paper from last year, you can access that here.