Organizational Development

Improving Employee Acceptance of Self-Service Technologies

Employee self-service (ESS) technology is a term used to describe a group of emerging web-based technologies that are quickly gaining popularity. These technologies empower employees to perform a variety of data management and transaction processing functions that once required the use of separate personnel resources, such as HR or administrative staff. Examples of ESS include technologies that allow employees to manage benefits, register for trainings, update personal information, or report on hours worked. The benefits of these technologies can add up quickly in the form of cost savings and efficiency gains for an organization.


Though advantageous to the organization, ESS technologies are usually less directly beneficial to employees, particularly because the ESS technology is rarely related to employees’ essential job functions. This can result in reduced motivation by some employees to fully learn and adopt the technology. In order to maximize cost and efficiency gains, organizations need as many employees as possible to utilize the full functionality of ESS technologies. There are two broad factors that influence employees’ acceptance of, and intent to use, new ESS technologies: attitudes toward the technology and managerial influence.


Employee attitudes are extremely predictive of intentions to learn and adopt a new technology. Attitudes towards a new technology are influenced by how useful the technology is perceived to be and how easy the technology is to use.
  • Perceived Usefulness – If employees believe that the use of a new technology will enhance their job performance, they will be more likely to hold positive attitudes toward that technology.
  • Ease of Use – The easier a new technology is to use, the more likely employees will hold positive attitudes toward that technology.

Managerial Influence

Managers play an important role in setting expectations for the use of a new technology. In addition, employees who perceive that they are supported and valued by their organization are more likely to be influenced by managerial pressure to adopt new technologies.

Practical Applications

As ESS technologies become more prevalent in the workplace, managers should be aware of several strategies they can use to increase employee adoption of these technologies.
  • Because perceived usefulness plays such an important role in employees’ attitudes about new technologies, organizations should focus on providing their employees with information about how the new technologies can benefit them.
  • Provide adequate training to employees about how to utilize new technologies. This will increase perceptions of ease of use and increase adoption of the new technology. After initial implementation of the technology, provide periodic training updates or refreshers.
  • Managers should use their influence to encourage organizational norms about the adoption of new technologies.
  • Increase perceptions of organizational support in order to increase the level of influence that managers have over adoption of new technologies.
  • Organizational norms and perceived support remain relevant after the introduction phase of the new technology. In fact, managerial influence may be more important during this time. Managers should continue to support organizational norms about the use of ESS technologies.
Employee self-service technologies are great ways to increase efficiency and cut down on administrative costs. By adequately preparing and supporting employees during the implementation of these new technologies, organizations can ensure a successful adoption.

Interpretation by:

Michelle Toelle

DeGarmo Group

This was a summary of the research and practice implications from: Marler, J. H., Fisher, S. L., & Ke, W. (2009). Employee self-service technology acceptance: A comparison of pre-implementation and post-implementation relationships. Personnel Psychology, 62, 327-358.