The 'Consumerization' of HR

June 26, 2017

The 'Consumerization' of HR

HR service delivery is the new frontier. Innovation in HR is exploding. We are transitioning our focus beyond core HR recruiting and talent management systems to how HR is going digital in the service delivery space and what that means for the employee experience as well as the HR profession overall. 

At HR Tech World earlier this month, Jason Averbook, CEO and cofounder of LeadGen dedicated a day-long preconference session to the “consumerization of HR.” Attendees gained a greater understanding of the need to shift their focus to creating a workplace of the future that incorporates employee’s changing expectations.  HR service delivery is about how services and information are delivered to employees.

The standard self-service options don’t meet the needs of employees today. Employees are not very tolerant of a poor service experience and will make decisions to change companies quicker than ever before. We must come to terms with the fact that employees expect and deserve a modern, consumerized service experience at work.

Consider the heart of HR service delivery: employee inquiries. How do employees in your organization ask and get answers to their questions? This is a basic concept but it is often one of the last things that HR teams address as a priority. In most organizations, email is still the most common way for employees to ask questions, followed by phone calls and personal visits to the HR office. Few HR professionals know how many inquiries their teams field on a given day, and they do not have a good understanding of the nature of questions coming in.

I recently met with an HR team that uses a color coding system to manage incoming inquiries from employees. As emails came into their inbox, someone reviews the email, color codes it based on category, and puts it into a folder to be worked on by the next available agent. That’s a lot of work to even get the email ready to be worked on.

They had never thought about making a change nor had they asked themselves what the employee experience was like for those asking the questions. When I talk with HR leaders, some don’t understand what I mean when I ask about their HR service delivery strategy. If I ask how employees ask HR questions, they quickly understand. Most are working in email and spreadsheets on a daily basis. These methods don’t provide information about how many inquiries are coming and what types of questions employees are asking. Short of counting and manually tracking emails, HR is left with little intelligence in this area.

Many HR teams spend most of their day answering the same questions, manually updating systems, and coordinating employee onboarding tasks across the organization (including facilities, IT security, finance, etc). Regardless of their core HR system. Most HR leaders want to create an exceptional employee service experience and be an employer of choice, but many are overwhelmed with the level of effort and change it will take to accomplish their vision.  

HR service delivery is very broad, and it can be overwhelming for an HR leader to put together a strategy to transform it. The place to begin is at the heart of service delivery: answering employee inquiries. If you begin by adding structure and visibility to this basic process, you fundamentally shift the employee service experience. You allow employees to have more direct access to information and support. You reduce their dependence on HR. To begin, start with a knowledge base and case management, two fundamental components of an HR service delivery strategy that can be implemented in a relatively short time. Begin with commonly asked questions and basic policy information. From there, you can build your knowledge base based on the cases (questions) that come in from employees.

Once you have this basic structure in place and you have access to business metrics, you can y leverage automation to reduce manual work across your organization. Consider workflows such as employee on-boarding, off-boarding, transitions, and global mobility. These are all workflows that require participation and input from various departments across the organization and perhaps even third-party vendors, as well as managers and employees. with the right service delivery approach, you can orchestrate these workflows on a single platform and have visibility into deliverables and SLAs, all while providing employees with a great service experience. 

A senior vice president of HR shared services for a leading health care organization recently told me she and her team are focused on creating the workplace of the future. They just went live with a knowledge base and case management and shut off the phones into their service center and eliminated their HR email. Employees were directed to their new service portal to get answers. They had over 50,000 knowledge base searches the first month alone, and employee satisfaction with the new service experience was excellent. It took 12 weeks to go live with the initial phase.

As you look to the future and the workplace you want to create, begin by developing your overall HR service delivery strategy. Ask yourself how you want to deliver services to your employees from pre-employment and beyond, and remove the term “self service” from your vocabulary. What type of service experience do you want to provide your employees?  Rather than address HR service delivery in silos, look at the big picture, think about the entire enterprise (not just HR), and begin with the simplest yet most critical area of HR service delivery: inquiry support. HR is in a position today to be innovation leaders in their organization, and HR service delivery is just the green space you have been looking for to make a truly meaningful impact on the future of your business.


The Authors: 

Jen Stroud is ServiceNow's HR evangelist, helping customers simplify and improve their HR services. Previously, she was the executive director of Human Capital Services at TeleTech. In that role, Jen led an enterprise HR transformation initiative for its more than 45,000 employees, transitioning the company from a decentralized HR support model to a shared services operating model. You can reach her on Twitter @Stroud_Jen.