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Use multimedia campaigns to nurture employee self-service

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employee Benefits Program,HR Management,Human Resources

Having employees handle their own pay and benefits administration is the Holy Grail of comp and benefits pros. So-called self-service means an entire organization of workers independently sourcing forms and finding answers to payroll and benefits questions online. That means fewer calls to HR seeking basic information.

But old habits die hard. Merely offering self-serve online resources to employees won’t automatically make them self-sufficient.

To create new employee behaviors and greater HR efficiencies, initiate a long-term, multimedia strategy using techniques that encourage employees to help themselves.

Spread the word

Experts claim it takes 30 days to create new habits, but HR pros who have achieved high adoption rates for self-service offerings often find it takes 12 months of communication to make self-service stick. Among the techniques they use: including links to self-service web sites in monthly newsletters, notices on company bulletin boards and taking every opportunity to pitch employee groups on the benefits of the program.

Persistent, targeted messaging is crucial to engendering new habits, according to Susan Heard, SPHR, VP for the Paradigm Group, because employees are bombarded with daily information and are unlikely to engage in a new self-service program until a specific need arises.

“Employees need to know what’s in it for them,” says Stacia Skretteberg, HR director for Sugarland Enterprises Inc. “You have to articulate the benefits to employees, like having easy access to information, faster service and the ability to manage their accounts from home. Don’t emphasize the benefits for HR if you want to enlist employee support and participation.”

Provide access

Not everyone has access to the web (or even a computer) at home. To increase adoption by all employees, consider installing self-serve PC “kiosks” at various locations throughout your facilities. Offer access to training room computers so employees can review information and fill out forms during breaks or after work.

Hold a treasure hunt

Challenge employees to locate online resources by posing a weekly question via e-mail. Award a token prize to employees who come up with the correct answer. Capitalize on employees’ competitive spirit by publicizing the names of winners. Build excitement by posting hourly updates on Twitter.

Appoint champions

Identify (or train) self-serve power users throughout the organization to serve as resources for co-workers. Besides answering employees’ questions, champions can give feedback to HR on portal navigation, online tools and the effectiveness of communications campaigns. Encourage champions to chat with employees online or blog about their experiences using self-service tools. Peer testimonials are powerful tools in coaxing nonadopters into the fold.

Embrace teachable moments

Adults learn best through hands-on experiences, so each time one of the 85 employees at the Fresno Irrigation District calls with a question, HR Director Regina Davis invites them to visit the company training room. There she shows them how to find answers online. After conducting individual sessions for a year, Davis reports that 90% of the company’s employees are now serving themselves.

Laura Donahue, HR manager for JULIE Inc., instituted a series of “small steps” to launch employee self-service at the excavation services company. She strategically segmented employees according to their computer savvy. Then she conducted small group training sessions for in-house employees and webinars for dispersed workers.

Donahue says follow-up helps push non-techies toward self-sufficiency: “When an employee calls with a question after initial training, we go through how to find the information together, because that’s the only way they will learn to source the answers for themselves.”

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