Beyond self-service to HR service delivery: the new frontier in HR?

HR service delivery is a perfect way to make a truly meaningful impact to the future of your business

HR leaders are in a position to be innovative leaders in their organisations, and Mark Souter explains that HR service delivery is a perfect way to make a truly meaningful impact to the future of your business

Innovation in HR is exploding. As a result, the HR function is extending beyond core activities like recruitment or talent management systems, and increasingly exploring the service delivery space – addressing the people ‘interaction’ before the HR ‘transaction’ occurs. This is transforming the experience of employees and HR professionals, and increasing the strategic value HR can bring.

HR service delivery is about how HR service and information are delivered to employees, via omni-channel experiences (like using telephones calls/ SMS, chat functionality & other ways we interact in our consumer-world). Often, the standard “self-service” options of HR departments don’t meet the evolving needs of employees today. Employees, who have become accustomed to streamlined, user-friendly experiences delivered by consumer technology, are not very tolerant of a poor service experience and will make decisions to change companies quicker than ever before. Employees expect and deserve a terrific service experience at work; one that looks more like the consumer services they experience every day.

HR departments need to look at some of their standard HR processes and ask whether they are delivering for the future. Consider the heart of HR service delivery – employee enquiries. This is a simple concept but is often one of the last things that HR teams address as a priority. Managers and employees have questions and they need answers. In most organisations, email is still the most common way for employees to ask questions, followed by phone calls and visits to the HR office. When I talk to HR professionals, few can tell me how many enquiries their teams field in a day and they do not have a good understanding of the nature of the questions coming in.

“HR departments need to look at some of their standard HR processes and ask whether they are delivering for the future”

To stay relevant in the era of digital transformation, HR professionals should be focusing on building the workplaces of the future. Yet when they are spending 60% or more of their work week answering emails, responding to the same questions, or manually processing forms, there simply isn’t enough time to dedicate to innovating. HR leaders should have a clear HR service delivery strategy. Most are delivering HR services via email and spreadsheets on a daily basis. These methods don’t provide information about how many enquiries are coming in and what types of questions employees are asking.

Moving towards or automating a HR service delivery model makes a lot of sense. Here are some simple steps that will help:

  • Automate workflow: –Minimising manual work is critical. Wherever there is manual work, there is greater opportunity for errors, delays and missed deliverables. Enabling technology to move work through your organisation from requestor to fulfiller is at the heart of an effective service delivery strategy. Without automation, you cannot free up your HR resources to focus on more strategic initiatives.
  • Sophisticated cross-departmental case management: The best way to minimise or eliminate email as the primary communication method between employees and HR, is to implement case management functionality with workflow capabilities. Cases are auto-routed to the appropriate person or team for follow-up and response, and everyone, including the requestor, has visibility to the status of all requests.
  • Develop a comprehensive HR knowledgebase:  Empowering your employees to get answers to their questions without being dependent on HR is at the heart a good service delivery strategy. The best type of HR case, is no HR case! Without a knowledgebase, HR will continue to spend a significant part of their day answering basic questions. Knowledge bases build over time, but once in place, they save organisations huge amounts of time and money.
  • HR service delivery platform: To fully automate your processes, you must consider your current HR technology and the gaps in service delivery you are experiencing. Missing from many organisations and HR initiatives is a service delivery platform designed to manage how work gets done across an organisation.

“Enabling technology to move work through your organisation from requestor to fulfiller is at the heart of an effective service delivery strategy”

I recently met with the senior vice president of HR shared services for a leading healthcare organisation. They had just implemented a new service delivery strategy and were already reaping the benefits. Instead of simply relying on phones & email, employees were directed to their new HR service centre to get answers and get the right level of HR support, at the right time. In the first month alone, there were 50,000 knowledge base searches and employee experience rocketed.

As you look to the future: considering the workplace and employee environment you want to create, you have to begin by developing an overall HR service delivery strategy & how people experience the workplace services offered. HR leaders are in a position to be innovative leaders in their organisations, and HR service delivery is a perfect way to make a truly meaningful impact to the future of your business.

Mark Souter will be discussing how technology is transforming HR at ServiceNow’s NowForum conference in Sydney on 25 October. To sign up, free, register here. Image source: iStock