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ESS Portal | Employee self-service for payroll

Whether you have a separate payroll department or you have tasked your HR department with taking care of your payroll as well, you probably know that they are overwhelmed with tons of employee requests every day.

For example, queries like “How do I update my tax-saving IT declaration?” are frequently asked by employees, as IT declarations can be made throughout the fiscal year.

Employee self-service portal

This is not the only challenge, but your team’s efficiency suffers from the time taken to answer questions like these. Even something as simple as communicating an important announcement to the employees can be a source of inefficiency. Here are some of the most common challenges that eat into the productivity of your HR or payroll department:

1. Communication between employees and employers
2. Collecting, validating, and managing employee reimbursement requests
3. Managing the IT declaration process month by month
Collecting, validating, and approving Proof of Investments

In this blog, we’ll discuss how exactly an employee self-service (or ESS) portal helps you to digitize all these processes so that your payroll department can reach its productivity goals.

Communication between employees and employers

Communicating without friction is essential for HR and payroll departments. Be it changes in organisation policies or important announcements made by the Government, these departments are tasked with distributing essential information to employees.

Emails used to be the most trusted format for sharing all this information, but there is a faster method that’s more suited to modern, fast-paced communication style: self-service portals.

Not all self-service portals can streamline employer-employee communications. Let’s take a look at Zoho Payroll’s employee self-service portal on how you can solve this persistent problem effectively.

For sharing important updates, there’s a personalized space to put up a banner message. Simply type the message that needs to be communicated, and it is automatically broadcast to all the employees. Your payroll admins can control how long the message needs to be displayed to reach everyone without becoming a distraction. You can visualize how much time your payroll or HR department would save by not worrying about unread emails and follow-up messages.

Modern communication through ESS

If communication is your biggest obstacle in realizing your productivity goals, consider using a self-service portal to boost your efficiency and time savings.

Collecting, validating, and managing employees’ reimbursement requests

Reimbursement benefits associated with CTC are commonplace for a lot of organisations, as employers or business owners are increasingly focused on looking after their employees.

From the standpoint of your payroll or HR department, though, this is not exciting news. It can mean mountains of bills or receipts on their desk, each month.

We’ve discussed the volume of requests, but the validation details are just as much of a problem. Are the bills submitted within the allowed reimbursement limit? Are the bills matched to the right employee? Are all reimbursement bills accounted for, and has the payroll team captured the right reimbursement amount? These are some of the basic validations, yet they are incredibly time-consuming tasks because of the amount of manual work involved.

What part does a self-service portal play in this? Imagine that your payroll department can move all of that paperwork online, and have the validation done automatically. No more mountains of unprocessed receipts, no more mismatches, or wrong reimbursements.

Your payroll team can do their work with complete control from the admin end, while the self-service side of the portal will guide your employees to complete all the tasks you need them to.

Payroll admin workflow inside Zoho Payroll

  • Open up the reimbursement receipt submission

  • Choose the deadline date before which the bills have to be submitted

  • Notify all the employees about the deadline in a single broadcast

ESS Portal : Reimbursements admin workflow

Employee workflow inside Zoho Payroll

ESS Portal : Employee submitting reimbursement requests

ESS Portal : Digitising reimbursements process

Here comes the interesting part. Even if your current system allows all this proof submission and collection online, the real bottleneck would be the follow-up communication process in cases of insufficient or incorrect proofs. In most cases, follow-up happens through emails, which can quickly get inefficient.

We’ve taken that extra step to allow the follow-up communication to happen in real-time. The comments you add to a reimbursement request are instantly synced to the individual employees’ self-service profiles automatically. Back-and-forth communication is just like text messaging now: fast, to the point, and convenient.

Managing the IT declaration process month by month

We’ve already discussed the importance of statutory compliance. A core part of maintaining compliance is getting TDS right, and it all starts with the routine month-by-month IT declaration.

Traditionally, your payroll department might collect this information over email. It’s not an efficient approach, as your payroll staff has to update all this information for every employee on your payroll manually. Besides creating a lot of manual work, it also leaves plenty of scope for mistakes.

Self-service portals allow you to delegate this task back to your employees. You can open up the option for submitting tax-saving declarations, set a deadline for submission, notify your employees, and relax.

ESS Portal : IT declaration

Collecting, validating, and approving Proof of Investments (POI)

Tax true-up time is one of the busiest times in the life of a payroll employee. Endless hours are spent in collecting POI from all your employees, validating it, and approving it.

It’s a similar situation to the reimbursement bills. There are tons of proof documents to handle, like the House Rent Allowance proof (HRA), Educational loans proof, and many other proofs submitted under all the legally applicable categories allowed by the Government.

ESS lets employees do the bulk of these tasks, by allowing them to submit all the necessary proofs for their declared IT investments. As an admin, you can give your payroll staff complete control over when to do the tax true-up, and inform all your employees about the deadline automatically.

As you can see in the screenshots below, all the different stages of proof collection are handled online: tax true-up, validation, approval, and communication. It makes the proof collection process stress-free and takes collaboration to the next level within your organisation.

ESS Portal - Collecting Investment proofs

For your employees, the ESS portal can act as a secure and personalized online space. Employees can get a quick overview of their payslips, tax worksheets, and payroll forms, as well as a summary of their annual tax liabilities, outstanding loan amounts, and historic salary revision. They can access all this information without having to talk to anyone in payroll or HR, right from their web browser or smartphone. And employee self-service is still evolving. ESS portals are an important cog in personalizing the employee experience, and going where your employees are.

ESS portals are not just another feature of your payroll software. The right employee self-service portal will prove to be a difference-maker for your organization’s efficiency and productivity goals. It transforms time-consuming tasks like follow-up communication, reimbursements, IT declarations, POI, and information distribution. With ESS, your payroll or HR department can get things done faster, with more accuracy and less stress.

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