Self-service is hard work

A switch to employee self-service can place significant added pressures on other managers within an organisation, two senior figures involved in introducing e-HR have warned

Julia Depree, project director of Marks and Spencer’s people solutions programme, told delegates at a conference in Spain organised by PeopleSoft that one of the biggest problems is persuading section managers to take on additional work.

“The HR department is primed and ready to go in its new strategic role – and has been for a long time – but the big issue is whether line managers are willing to take on more responsibility for the day-to-day management of people,” Depree said.

David Marsh, head of information systems for British Nuclear Fuels, reinforced Depree’s warning about the burden placed on line managers by employee self-service.

“The savings that could be made within HR need to include moving responsibility from HR to the line managers and the impact this has on their workload,” Marsh said.

Companies with staff who lack computer skills and have limited access to office facilities face further problems. “Fifty-five per cent of M&S employees have never used a PC, and most store employees don’t have a desk,” Depree said.

M&S will solve these problems by installing computer booths in the staff areas and by training employees to use them. And despite the challenges that implementing e-HR entails, Depree explained that she was delighted that 

M&S was moving to employee self-service. For example, Christmas work schedules will “no longer be the mountain-of-paper nightmare of the past”, she said.