What HR Can Learn From IT About Workflow Automation
Posted by on May 30, 2017
Imagine that your employees didn’t need to email or call HR with every single paycheck or benefits question. Instead, imagine they have the ability to log into a self-service portal where information related to their employment is at their fingertips—anytime, day or night. Imagine they could use the same portal to request time off, change a mailing address, or confirm a 401(k) contribution. Not only does such a system already exist, but it may already in place within your IT department.
For all of the differences between IT and HR, the two groups share some important similarities. Essentially, both act as service centers, responding to regular requests from employees, many of which are repetitive and tedious. Through the use of IT service management solutions, IT teams have taken the lead in automating the request and fulfillment process, to help employees serve themselves where possible, while ensuring that tasks requiring assistance are handled quickly and efficiently.
If your HR department could benefit from streamlining and automating routine workflows, read on to learn the things that HR can learn from IT.
Over the last decade or so, the IT department has empowered employees to solve simple problems on their own, by capturing the knowledge of the most sophisticated and highly-compensated team members and distributing that knowledge via self-service to solve the most common issues users confront. With the knowledgebase as a first line of response, many would-be service requests are now solved by the employees themselves, reducing the number of issues that the team must tackle directly.
The same approach can revolutionize the HR department. Instead of HR staff spending valuable time fielding the same questions over and over—and repeating the same answers—their knowledge can be shared widely through a central repository within the portal, which users can access as needed. The portal is always accessible, engaging employees to research information, check the status of benefits, or make changes to their personal profile—at their own convenience. The knowledgebase can also be used to communicate information and share important messages with employees in a widespread, scalable way.
While the volume of requests become more manageable with an automated system, there are times when a request will need to be handled in a personalized manner by a staff member. IT departments have gotten really good at collecting the right information, and using that information to route it to the right person for the right response. If a task or service request requires ten pieces of information in order to fulfill it, then those ten items are made required fields in the portal. When the user fills out a form and hits “Submit,” the request is routed directly to the person who can take care of it most quickly and efficiently. The HR department can easily adopt the same automated routing capabilities to reduce the bottlenecks caused by email, phone, and in-person requests.
Improved, Auditable Workflow
By reducing the amount of time and number of people needed to field and fulfill requests, automated solutions used by IT minimize the chance of human error in the process. They also provide visibility into the number of requests received, time to response and completion, and the stages at which service requests most frequently stall out. This data can be used to plan workflow improvements over time, as well as to benchmark and incentivize productivity.
The portal can also send reminders and updates for employees, as well as track the levels of engagement and response. These approaches, which have been widely embraced by IT, can be utilized by HR to gain efficiencies and provide better service to business users.
Seemingly Seamless Integration
IT departments are all too familiar with the challenge of integrating antiquated and cumbersome—yet still necessary—software with their service management solutions. Rather than trying to find a new solution that can tie these disparate applications together, the HR department can leverage the service management solution used by IT to integrate with other applications and/or to build new workflows to replace those antiquated HR systems.
To be clear, the portal is not a replacement for HR’s most common applications (Workday, Zenefits, Kronos, etc.), which provide deep and critical functionality. But such solutions are rarely able to handle the volume of service requests HR is responsible for, and integrating the service management solution and portal with these types of systems gives employees a single pane of glass into HR. This helps make HR’s job easier and frees up time to focus on more strategic and satisfying responsibilities.
Happier End Users
Making service a priority can help HR increase satisfaction among your most important end users: your employees. The IT department has proven that automation can boost satisfaction, not just by saving time and reducing repetitive tasks, but also by making it easier for everyone to find the answers they need.
The IT and HR departments may not always see eye to eye, but it’s easy to agree on the benefits of workflow automation through a self-service portal.
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