By Jen Stroud
What could you accomplish if you didn’t have to spend nearly 12 hours every week on mundane administrative tasks like replying to emails, answering phone calls, and updating spreadsheets? What strategic, high-value projects and initiatives would you be able to devote your energy to?
The common thread I've woven throughout my three blogs here is how service management can help you answer those questions by automating repetitive and complex manual work and strengthening your business processes. Let’s examine how to leverage service management to help employees better help themselves, when appropriate, so you can devote yourself to projects and interactions that merit a high-touch approach.
In HR, the term high-touch refers to spending time personally communicating with employees about their questions and concerns, manually processing their requests, and managing other HR activities on a case by case basis. High-touch support is a critical component of our jobs, but for routine administrative services, a manual high-touch approach isn’t effective or efficient for you or the employee. HR becomes overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work, and the employees are often frustrated by delays and the lack of visibility into their requests. It also leaves HR with little time to spend personally interacting with employees when it really matters.
Employee onboarding is a good example of when high-touch isn’t necessary for all activities. A 2015 survey of nearly 2,000 corporate managers found that approximately 70 percent said that employee onboarding was frustrating, while almost half said that it took 10 or more interactions across an average of five departments to get ready for an employee’s first day on the job. Someone in HR is also often responsible for coordinating these activities with significant follow-up required to ensure everything gets done on time.
Now, imagine employee onboarding with the help of service management. Once the recruiter hires the employee in their ATS, an onboarding workflow is immediately initiated automatically generating and routing tasks to all parties (facilities, IT, security, etc.) as well as updating systems with key information. No manual intervention required. And, HR doesn’t need to follow-up with anyone as service management takes care of that for you. Low touch and very effective.
High-touch administrative processes are not only frustrating, but they also keep HR from focusing on strategic work such as talent development, employee engagement and coaching, all of which showcase HR’s critical value to the entire business. Rather than engaging personally in high-value activities—where high-touch delivers the most benefits—HR is all too often consumed in a constant back-and-forth with employees on mundane tasks.
Service management does so much more than relieve you of the steady stream of emails that hit your inbox every day—it transforms the way you engage with employees. It’s a combination of administrative assistant and project manager that can respond immediately to requests, progress cases, automate repeatable manual processes, and as I outlined above, even manage complex cross-departmental activities such as employee onboarding. Service management never forgets or makes mistakes, always follows up with people so things get done, and lets you know if there’s a problem it can’t solve. It also shows you where your people spend their time—so you can optimize resource deployment and maximize productivity. Service management doesn’t replace your current human capital management system—it integrates with it and complements it, giving you visibility and control over the work you probably do mostly via email today.
To provide the leadership team with concrete evidence of just how transformative a force HR can be, a service management approach gives you the visibility you need to measure and improve your service delivery performance. Service management collects a wide range of process metrics that enable you to quickly identify process bottlenecks and opportunities to drive further operational efficiencies. You’ll have constant access to dashboards and reports with key KPIs, as well as analytics tools that you can use to better understand your business and make meaningful changes to your support model.
While service management handles all of these processes and projects, you can get back to the concept of high-touch when it matters. For example, consider your company’s process for maternity or paternity leave requests. The process of submitting a leave request is an administrative task the expectant mother or father should be able to handle without needing assistance from HR.
But consider how stressful and emotional having a baby can be. Employees may have questions or simply feel overwhelmed. They may need a level of one-on-one interaction with you to help understand their benefit options or how to prepare their manager and colleagues to assume some of their workload.
In addition to helping them before they go on leave, you could also reach out while they’re on leave. Let them know you’re thinking of them, ask if they need any help, and prepare them to make a smooth transition back to full-time work before their leave period ends. That’s high touch when it matters.
The same scenario could play out when someone prepares to take sick leave to battle an illness, or help a loved one do so, or when an employee experiences a death of a family member or close friend. Imagine how much more loyal and productive employees will be if they see HR, and to the larger extent, their employer, as a caring resource to help them advance their professional careers and better handle whatever challenges life throws at them, even away from the office.
Service management can be a game changer for HR by alleviating your team of the administrative work that takes up so much of your workday. Challenge yourself to think of a different reality where you spend your time on meaningful interactions with employees, which, after all, is likely one of the primary reasons you chose to pursue a career in HR in the first place.
 ServiceNow, “Today’s State of Work: The Productivity Drain,” 2015.
Previouse blogs in this series include:
Understanding Employee Self Service
Why Onboarding Is So Critical
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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.