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HR and Payroll Self-Service: Essential Features and Best Practices

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Self-service platforms let employees view and manage certain HR and payroll tasks themselves, which eases pressure on the HR or payroll team. Studies show that the vast majority of employers offer self-service HR or payroll. In National Payroll Week's 2020 "Getting Paid in America" survey, 84.45% of employees said their employer provides a self-service platform that lets them access their pay and benefits information online.

an artistic rendition of a laptop with notifications and reviews floating in front of the screen

Some employers, especially large corporations, may need advanced HR or payroll self-service solutions. Other employers may get by with a rudimentary platform that delivers the basics. For many employers, the following five features are essential.


1. Personal information


Employees can update their:

  • Name.

  • Marital status.

  • Home address.

  • Mailing address.

  • Phone number.

  • Email address.

  • Emergency contacts.

2. Payroll


Employees can:

  • Add, change or discontinue direct deposit.

  • Review paycheck information such as gross wages, tax deductions, voluntary deductions and net pay.

  • Print pay stubs.

  • Update tax withholding forms, including Form W-4. There may be restrictions on submitting certain state tax information, depending on the system.

  • Print Form W-2s.

  • Add or change voluntary deductions.

3. Employee benefits


Employees can:

  • Enroll in benefit plans during onboarding.

  • Add or change benefit options during open enrollment.

  • Manage benefits year-round.

  • Access benefits notices and documents.

  • Receive updates on critical benefits information.

4. Time and attendance


Employees can:

  • View PTO balances.

  • Send time-off requests to managers or supervisors.

  • View work schedules.

  • Update work availability.

  • Punch in and out remotely.

  • Check timecard data.

5. Manager self-service


Managers and supervisors can:

  • Review, edit and approve timecards.

  • Conduct scheduling tasks.

  • Approve or deny time-off requests.

  • Manage salary and performance reviews.

  • Establish performance targets.

  • Maintain employee morale via event notifications (e.g., birthdays and anniversaries).

  • Access information on active and inactive employees.

  • Run workforce-related reports, such as attendance, PTO accruals and labor expenses.

HR and payroll self-service best practices

  • Identify the self-service needs specific to your organization and workforce.

  • Understand all the cost factors that go into acquiring a self-service platform.

  • Find a technology vendor that aligns with your self-service needs. Most payroll providers include access to a self-service portal in their services, though features vary by provider. If you perform payroll in-house, make sure your HR and payroll technology is compatible with your self-service requirements.

  • Aim for a solution that is easy to use and enables mobile access 24/7.

  • Be aware of any limitations that come with the self-service technology.

  • Educate employees on the benefits of using the self-service tool. This is vital to increasing utilization and stopping employees from unnecessarily relying on the HR and payroll teams.

  • Train employees on how to use the system correctly and where to go for help.

  • Lastly, choose a vendor that offers well-designed training resources and dependable customer service.

FIC Human Resource Partners' Nuance Workforce Solutions can help your organization determine which features are most important for your HR self-service platform.


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