Posted by Laura Poindexter on November 12, 2015.
Companies originally set up HR Shared Services (HRSS) organizations as a way to centralize, save costs, and add efficiency to routine HR processes. But as technology has advanced, many of the basic transactions (e.g., inputting and updating employee data, entering a leave request) that used to be HRSS’ bread and butter have become self-service enabled, so leaders and employees can handle them without HRSS intervention. As a result, HRSS organizations have had to think about how to reinvent themselves to remain relevant to the business—including providing services that require more complex, higher-value-added interaction with employees, such as recruiting or employee and labor relations. The focus is increasingly on serving evolving employee needs and interests in line with shifts in how people live and work today. Here are four ways HRSS is innovating with the times.
- Treating employees as customers
In the past, much of HRSS’s focus was inward and focused on efficiency and throughput: how many calls it could process or how quickly it could close tickets. Now we’re seeing a shift away from a transaction mentality toward more personal interactions with employees, particularly during key points identified as “moments that matter” in the employee life cycle. For example, a new hire’s first interaction with the HRSS organization during the onboarding process sets the tone for the future and can create a lasting impression, not only about HRSS but also about the company’s broader employment brand.
HRSS organizations are revaluating processes and services to achieve the right balance of process efficiency and customer service/empathy, aiming to make even standard processes feel less transactional and more personalized. In turn, they are beginning to measure themselves differently, focusing more on customer service-related metrics rather than traditional transaction processing and efficiency metrics.
- Reshaping employee interaction points
As employees conduct more aspects of their personal lives online, their expectations about service and availability have begun to extend to their professional lives. HRSS organizations have been challenged to rethink their customer interaction points to be more in line with commercial online and social media experiences. The days when employees could only contact their HRSS organization via phone and email are ending. Innovative HRSS organizations are now supporting access from personal devices in addition to company computers, including incorporating mobile-enabled forms, chat, text, and even social collaboration into their new service designs as appropriate for various processes.
These varied contact methods are making HRSS organizations more accessible to employee populations that used to be difficult to reach—such as those with limited access to work computers—while making HRSS interactions feel more collaborative and personalized.
- Shifting technology focus from HRSS to employees
HRSS technologies historically focused on optimizing processes and increasing HRSS efficiency and were quite basic and rigid from an end-user perspective. Now the emphasis is on technology that provides a unified, customer-focused experience for employees, including:
- Developing dynamic, interactive, and personalized employee portals that summarize relevant HR information from a variety of sources and are both mobile-enabled and accessible outside the company network.
- Incorporating integrated workflows that seamlessly route items to managers and employees for review and approval.
- Creating personalized and interactive content and checklists that intuitively guide employees to complete actions.
- Embracing virtual HRSS organizations
Traditionally HRSS organizations have generally been co-located to optimize efficiency and minimize technology infrastructure costs—a company might have one global HRSS center and a few satellites around the world. But with the growing adoption of cloud-based technologies and the overall maturity of HRSS organizations, companies are exploring more virtual operating models. When employees don’t have to be tied to an on-site technology infrastructure, companies can hire HRSS staff based on the skills needed, rather than location. Particularly as HRSS organizations expand into delivering more value-based services that require specialized expertise, obtaining the right talent regardless of location is becoming critical to delivering the desired customer experience. As long as HRSS organizations have robust enabling technologies and integrated processes, location can be a secondary consideration. One of the challenges of virtual HRSS, however, is how to keep HRSS employees engaged and connected despite the shift.
This fundamental rethinking of HRSS’s role and function in the organization is still evolving. But with employee retention and engagement continuing to be a top concern for business leaders (see Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends), HRSS’s efforts to treat employees as customers come at an opportune time. By focusing on the employee experience, supported by innovative technologies, HRSS organizations can better demonstrate the value they provide to the organization while paving the way to expand their scope of services even further.