What HR managers can learn from the geeks at IT
If you work in human resources, you’ve probably faced skepticism about the value that HR adds to the business, at least once. Of course, most of it stems from a lack of proper understanding of the role of HR in organizations. That can be fixed by building a better communication channel with employees, especially senior management.
The real test is when you ask yourself this question, and can honestly come up with something better than staff management and recruitment (I’m sorry but calling it “talent acquisition” is not what I mean – when you hire someone, “talent” should be a given). Since you’re an integral part of the business, you understand its goals much better than external agencies. You can use this to create a strategy that drives the business towards those goals with the help of enterprise service management.
IT teams have been facing similar skepticism for decades. Over the years, IT Service Management (ITSM) has evolved to become more efficient in terms of time, cost, and effort. They’re now using specialized tools and processes to get more output from the same workforce while also cutting losses. While it may not seem like it on the surface, HR and IT have a lot in common. Aside from being corporate service providers, both deal with similar types of requests – for help, information, services, and changes to existing services.
So, it’s no big surprise that Enterprise Service Management (ESM)– using ITSM best practices in other corporate departments to improve performance – is emerging as something HR teams might find interesting. And ESM offers tremendous benefits to IT teams and other teams alike. Here are some practical ITSM tips that can help HR teams become more productive and cost efficient:
1. Speeding up ticket resolution by leveraging automation
I’m assuming your team uses a ticket management system and does not rely on just email for employee queries (if that’s not the case, stop reading this and call up your service desk manager now).
With that out of the way, let’s talk about automation. It’s dreadful to think that most of the administrative and transactional work associated with HR can now either be outsourced or automated. The key is to accept this and take matters into your own hands. Automate tasks like record-keeping, payroll administration, and the mundane parts of employee onboarding.
This will free up time, and more importantly resources, to let you focus on the business goals. Your team can then brainstorm and come up with strategic plans to help attain them.
Speaking of freeing up resources…
2. Empowering employees to help themselves through self-service
How great would it be if you were never bothered by trivial questions about tax filing or the leave policy! Well, never is probably a long shot, but you can help employees help themselves to a great extent.
Build a knowledge base of frequently asked questions, and make the answers available on the support portal. Then encourage employees to search for answers through the knowledge base whenever they have such questions. Make them see how it’s easier and smarter to just look up the answer and move on with their day. A smart enough ticketing tool will even suggest relevant KB articles on the portal if someone decides to raise a ticket.
That said, you’ll need to make sure the quality of the KB is maintained. Keep it up to date, and make the articles easy to find and comprehend. Learn more on setting up a successful ITSM self-service portal here.
3. Getting the pulse of employee morale by sending regular CSAT surveys
For IT teams, the customer satisfaction score for a ticket is a good measure of the agent’s performance on it. But CSAT surveys do much more than just reflecting individual performances on specific tickets. Let me explain.
Let’s say an employee who is biased against HR raises a ticket for your team. The HR agent handles it brilliantly. While this doesn’t change their opinion of the department, they commend the agent with an elaborate response to the survey. When this happens a couple more times, their bias begins to wear off.
If this is the case in your organization, surveys could be a good way to gauge, and even change, the general opinion. Surveys don’t have to be just feedback for tickets. But be careful not to overdo it and make sure you actually follow through on the feedback that you get.
4. Keeping track of your own team’s progress using performance reports and gamification
While working on boosting the morale of employees, it’s important to also keep the motivation level high within the team. Concrete reports will help you identify achievements and areas of opportunity, and let you focus on what matters most.
Service desk gamification is also something that IT teams have seen great results with. It basically involves applying game mechanics to our everyday work to make it fun, and even addictive. You can set points for specific metrics. Then every ticket that comes in becomes more like an opportunity to outscore teammates, and less like an obligation.
The key here is to choose the right metrics. For instance, if you do not want your team mindlessly rushing through tickets, you can allot more points for CSAT than the sheer number of tickets resolved. You can go a step further and have internal rewards to recognize performances on these metrics.
5. Handling changes better using established change management techniques
Most changes in ITSM are complicated. Imagine solving a Rubik’s cube, if you will. Sometimes an attempt to make one service better causes an unanticipated issue with an older service. How do they prepare for this? They plan.
As simple as that sounds, every change requires a watertight plan that takes into account everything that can go wrong, and includes alternate steps in case something does. Sometimes this means rolling out changes in phases, so rolling it back wouldn’t set you back much.
Changes in HR are comparatively simpler, but the phased approach can help with the radical ones. Use the surveys I mentioned in the third point to find out the general consensus, and plan accordingly. This will make the changes feel much more natural and prevent employee outrage.
6. Avoiding over/understaffing with proper capacity management and root cause analysis
Recruiting talent is one of the fundamental functions of HR. But lack of a proper plan often creates one or both of the staffing problems that organizations dread.
Understaffing can disrupt the business’s competitive strategy leading to potential huge losses. Overstaffing can cause more direct losses and lead to layoffs in the future, hurting the company’s reputation.
You can get help from senior management to stay updated with the long-term strategy of various departments. Be sure to also take into account recent trends to identify causes of these issues in the past. Then you can work with managers and department heads on avoiding it in the future.
As with all borrowed techniques, it is important to stay resilient. How you implement them should be determined based on your organization’s business strategy and goals. If something does not align with those goals, or doesn’t fare too well on the impact/effort matrix for your workforce, by all means, discard or modify it.
But if you’ve read this far, I take it you’re open to experimenting and hate to plateau out. If any of these techniques help you think out of the box and revamp your team’s performance, I would love to hear it. Do post them in the comments below so others can benefit too. Good luck!