The shift to a work-from-home-first mentality has changed a lot about the nature of the employee experience—especially the coveted office perks. Goodbye, lunchtime yoga classes. So long, cabinets full of snacks. Au revoir, brainstorming over ping pong. Without the frills, shortcomings associated with the basics – such as Employee Service Centers – have been brought to light, the effects of which have proven to be staggering.

That being said, it is critical that you ask yourself this question: Does my Employee Self-Service Center stand up to scrutiny without the allure of free beer on Fridays? 

Adapting the Customer and Employee Experiences

Employees and customers alike have had to adjust (albeit in different ways) to how they interact with your company. The switch to a digital-first customer experience, for many consumers, revealed the importance of self-service.

A consumer’s simple question that would have taken an in-store employee a quick moment to answer suddenly required a series of online steps – clicks and scrolling – to be answered by relevant content. Good companies moved heaven and earth to shore up these experiences for the deluge of new customers entering into those channels.

But just like your customers, the switch to a digital-first employee experience required a concerted effort on your part to ensure they had everything they needed to succeed.Employee self-service is one of the core pillars of the employee experience, and Employee Self-Service Portals are a critical tool for keeping employees engaged, happy, and productive. They provide an experience that allows for centralized access to critical HR and IT resources, including paycheck stubs, benefits information, company policies, device policies and troubleshooting resources.

Learn more about what's driving employee experience transformation
Read: How IT Can Improve Employee Experience

Although a significant investment is required to stand up and maintain an Employee Service Center/Employee Self-Service Portal, the return on that investment is worthwhile, even when everyone’s in the office.  And the prospect of a long-term remote workforce only compounds the return on that investment, as, in that case, success is highly contingent upon initiating  and scaling  efforts to meet HR and IT service needs. 

The need to do so cannot be overstated. AGartner survey of company leaders found that over 80% planned to permit work-from-home in some form after things return to normal. Especially amongst a dispersed, work-from-home workforce, employees need access to the most up-to-date HR and IT information, as these are foundational resources that allow employees to keep working. 

Luckily, we’re at a point where technology can make employee self-service a sustainable option for the long term, and many companies are willing to make the investment.

APaychex snap poll last year found that companies are going to lean more heavily on technology to manage technology after re-opening from the shutdowns. Among the top priorities for millennial employee engagement were “To communicate/collaborate more effectively” (38%); “to automate tasks more/boost productivity” (26%); and “to improve employee management and payroll administration” (21%).

Of course, you can’t just stand up any Employee Self-Service Portal and expect it to deliver, much like you wouldn’t throw up a collection of FAQs on your website for customers to comb through without trying to optimize the experience.

Where Your Employee Service Center May Fall Short

Employee Service Centers are fantastic for their ability to aggregate information in one place and remove the need for employees to jump between multiple platforms to find all of the critical information they need. But having access to the information and finding the information are two entirely different things. For your employees, their self-service experience is going to be a source of frustration if they are bogged down by irrelevant experiences (i.e., interactions that provide no value or information).

Irrelevant experiences are huge saps on employee’s time and productivity. After all, if an employee can’t find the information they need, how can they be expected to do their job?

The key to cutting down on irrelevant experiences is reducing the time and effort it takes for employees to find what they’re looking for.According to McKinsey, the average interaction worker spends nearly 20 percent of their time looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks. This includes more than just the time spent looking for subject matter expert knowledge; it also includes the irrelevant experiences your employees are having when interacting with a bad Employee Self-Service Portal.

What kind of irrelevant experiences are your employees facing in the Employee Service Center?

On the HR side, your employees are navigating their benefits without the, ahem, benefit of extensive in-person assistance from your HR team or benefits representatives. If you don’t have the ability to deliver relevant content at the moment of need, your employees could face frustrating situations:

  • At a time when more people than ever are utilizing their health care benefits for doctor’s office visits or accessing mental health resources, finding the information they need to make an informed decision is critical—and potentially time sensitive. An irrelevant experience here is not just frustrating, it can be detrimental to their overall health (and satisfaction with their job).
  • With work-from-home came myriad shifts in company policies. Keeping up with all of these policies can be confusing. Answers to questions like “What is the policy for home office reimbursements?” can help employees make informed decisions as they settle into the new work-from-home reality, but not being able to find that information on their own could dissuade them from making the investment in the first place. And, if you’ve been trying to make working from home work without all of your usual office accoutrements, you know how frustrating that can be.

On the IT side, irrelevant self-service experiences can mean the difference between getting back to work and a day wasted:

  • Whether remote or in the office, employees rely on many tools and technologies to get the job done. Simple inquiries that require IT support—like resetting a password—can become huge barriers to productivity without the appropriate option for self-service. For these simple issues, finding a self-service solution can make employees feel empowered in their work and keep satisfaction up.
  • For companies large and small, rolling out new technologies can be a headache for employees accustomed to using the old system. Employee self-service can alleviate many of the issues that arise after initial training sessions, because there are inevitably going to be questions about features and functionality that were missed the first time around. Self-service is critical for this kind of change management and can help keep employee frustration under wraps before it boils over into attrition.

Let’s be real: while your employees are looking for information on how to recover a password, they’re likely also trying to find their child’s favorite toy that’s missing or a snack to nosh on that won’t be too loud on the Zoom meeting – anyone else getting tired of almonds? We know employees are working more from home—up to three hours more—as they attempt to juggle a non-stop workday mixed with teaching and household duties.

Taking away extra effort and reducing frustration in the employee experience is so critical right now. Making sure that every search for information is relevant in the Employee Self-Service Portal ensures you’re not compounding problems for employees that are already stretched thin.

Furthermore, by removing the barriers to finding information in your Employee Service Center, your employees will feel more connected to your company. Without the hurdle of finding relevant information, employees can focus more time on the things that matter to them professionally, rather than wasting time on things that frustrate them.

Deliver a Relevant Employee Service Center Experience

The question remains: how can I avoid irrelevant experiences in my Employee Service Center?

Like your customer self-service, the best approach to employee self-service is to bring data together from across the enterprise and then apply AI to surface the best content to a given employee through search, personalization, and recommendations.

A Relevance platform does exactly that. It takes employee, customer, and content data from everywhere—self-service portals, internal helpdesk forms, even chatbots—to bring relevance into every interaction that an employee has with your Employee Service Center.  

Learn more about what's required to create relevant digital workplace experiences
Read: 4 Features You Need to Power an Intelligent Workplace

Dig Deeper

Especially in today’s work-from-home environment, the Employee Service Center serves as a hub for the intelligent workplace. What does a relevant experience look like in today’s intelligent workplace?

Dive into a quick demo ofCoveo for ServiceNow-Employee Experience to see how your company can better enable employees and increase their engagement through self-service that serves your in-office and at-home workers.

And for even more details, check out Coveo for ServiceNow.