The next frontier in HR service delivery

Ask the pro: Marc Solow

In the last five to seven years, many companies have transformed their HR service delivery models by implementing shared services, streamlining their business processes, and investing in leading edge HR technologies, and solutions. Building upon this foundation, some are now turning to the next frontier in service delivery: improving the employee and manager experience through workplace simplification and systems of engagement.

Why is improving the employee and manager experience the next frontier?

​It has to do with the “consumerization” of service delivery. Retailers are now able to connect with consumers wherever, whenever, and in whatever manner they desire, whether that’s in a store, on a mobile app, or somewhere in between. Employees, particularly Millennials, increasingly expect to interact with their employers in the same way. Young people run their lives on mobile devices and they think it’s strange when there isn’t a mobile app for recording their time, submitting expenses or accessing HR. Many also don’t understand the need to be trained on cumbersome transactional systems since the apps they use in their daily lives are intuitive, requiring no instruction manual, and certainly no classroom teaching.


What are early adopters doing to meet these expectations and to improve the employee experience?

​Early adopters are using work simplification tools to help people learn and interact more efficiently. For instance, online collaboration tools are now available that can facilitate and track ongoing dialog among sales teams and work groups, allowing for seamless hand-offs and eliminating the need to search through volumes of old e-mails to understand what has previously transpired. Early adopters are also using systems of engagement, or technologies that wrap around the systems of record, to put transactions in context and to guide the user in making informed decisions. Systems of engagement comprise a range of complementary portal, mobile, social collaboration, content and knowledge-management technologies, and by using them together, companies can provide their employees with richer, more satisfying interactions. It’s analogous to what big online retailers are doing to create a customized shopping experience, complete with suggestions of items you might like to buy based on your preferences and previous shopping history.

When you think about it, employees usually interact with HR when they have a life or career event, such as getting married, having a baby, or taking an assignment in another country. These “moments that matter” create opportunities for organizations to strengthen their relationships with employees by providing seamless, positive experiences. For instance, when someone gets married, they need to consider many things regarding HR, such as name, and address changes, adjustments to payroll tax withholding, and adding dependents to insurance or other benefits. There’s a lot to think about, and without wrapping the actual context around the transactions, an employee may remember to change her name and payroll withholding tax, but not realize there are several other benefits that need to be adjusted as well. By using systems of engagement, employees, and managers can more easily do everything they need to do all at once through whatever channel they wish.


How can my HR organization take service delivery and employee engagement to the next level?

​There’s a whole world of technology available that’s been relatively untapped by HR organizations. Work simplification tools and systems of engagement can be layered onto the transactional systems that support the service delivery model. The greatest benefits lie in pulling together a comprehensive experience or solution, where transactions are supported by personalized, contextualized content that help employees and managers perform required tasks efficiently. Employees should also be able to access the service organization, or whomever else they need to interact with, through multiple channels in real time. Mobility can then take everything one step farther, allowing employees to cut the cord and do their work when they’re not at their desks. These types of technologies are mutually reinforcing, but they don’t have to be deployed all at once. The key is to develop a strategy and to start somewhere in executing against it. The bar is only going to get higher, and a company is more apt to retain Millennials by meeting their expectations for streamlined service delivery and by engaging them in new and interesting ways.

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