At your service

Treat your employees like your clients,
 and see satisfaction and productivity rates rise.
By Jill Goldstein
 
Most organizations measure their success solely based on how they are satisfying the needs of their customers. But there is a new approach to consider: Forward-thinking firms are introducing a mindset that views employees as the consumers.
 
Taking an employee services approach—one that views employees as consumers—requires organizations to better understand employees’ expectations and to rethink how they deliver service their workforces.
 
Today, most HR organizations are structured around traditional areas, including recruitment, learning, and payroll management. This same structure is used to service their workforces. But, in reality, employees don’t think in terms of these silos. Bottom line: They want their questions answered wherever they fall on the HR spectrum. A focus on high-touch employee services can provide thoughtful, end-to-end support to address employees’ concerns. But some areas will happen more frequently, and require some coordination for proper execution.
 
The most common scenarios involve activities related
to onboarding, transferring jobs, or termination. These are “moments of truth” for employees. They represent circumstances in which almost all employees—including the technically savvy Millennial generation—appreciate a personal touch. They also present opportunities for organizations to offer better and more satisfying experiences that foster positive perceptions of the company, produce meaningful outcomes, and exceed expectations.
 
Creating seamless employee services at a given “moment of truth” requires an integrated operating model—one that coordinates multiple processes and systems. It also calls for trusted advisors who can act as a single point of contact for the employee confronting a “moment of truth.” These advocates, when trained to anticipate expectations and concerns, can more easily and completely satisfy employees’ and managers’ often unspoken requests. They become, in effect, the face of a highly personalized HR experience.
 
Case in point: An employee that wants to go on maternity leave. She is bound to have questions and she shouldn’t have to chase the answers she needs. A personal advocate would help make this employee’s personal and professional event as seamless as possible. Rather than limiting the interaction to the employee’s specific question (e.g., how long is my maternity leave), the advocate would engage
the employee in a discussion to better understand her underlying needs. Then, the advocate would explain what the employee might experience from that day through their leave, including returning to work. The ongoing discussion may include leave eligibility and maternity, legislative and medical benefits; benefit enrollment of the new child; and guidance on tax withholdings. The advocate could also assist with the employee’s return to work date by coordinating with her manager as well as help to explore alternative work arrangements if requested.
 
Things to Take Into Account
Here are three additional considerations for adopting the employee services model:
1. Start slow. Given the amount of change that may
be required to offer end-to-end employee services, organizations should initially focus on just a few “moments of truth.” They should select the moments that have the strongest potential return and will materially affect workforce productivity, engagement, or satisfaction. In all likelihood, an organization will find that a number of their employee and manager processes are candidates for change. In those circumstances, it is helpful to apply filters to narrow the list. For example, organizations may want to begin with processes that employees find least satisfying, involve a high number of transactions, or need to be completed during the work day.
2. Define and redesign. Key activities within these “moments of truth” must be identified and the processes must be redesigned from both the employee and manager perspective. Although there may be
a handful of moments—such as moving a personal residence—that can be handled solely by HR, most will require coordination with other groups including finance, procurement, and IT.
Once organizations have designed the new processes, they need to think about operationalizing them. This step requires asking tough questions: What are the access channels available to the workforce? What can we make easily available to our employees through technology? Where does it make sense to invest in high- touch services? And for those services, what re-training is required of our contact center representatives and other HR professionals?
 
3. Measure success. When it comes to metrics, indicators such as process accuracy and timeliness will continue
to be important. So will the quality of employee experiences. Measuring the net promoter score, employee/manager satisfaction, and productive work time are all key indicators that should be considered. One company that made the switch to employee services reached 100 percent user satisfaction ratings. For a recently completed client pilot, employees who were on child-care leave returned to work one day earlier which, for this particular client, resulted in nearly 1,000 additional productive work days. Another company, for example, was able to return three hours of time each week to retail store managers. These types of outcomes have a direct bearing on a company’s bottom line.
While traditional HR processes will continue to deliver the lion’s share of services, the value of the employee services approach will become increasingly clear in the coming
years. While not a blanket solution, for those “moments of truth” that are pivotal, a consumerism mindset and high- touch services can fundamentally change employees’ and managers’ experiences with the company. Employee services can set the stage for the next level of maturity for HR shared services and put the “human” back in human resources.
 
Jill Goldstein is global lead of talent and HR BPO services for Accenture.
 

Posted May 15, 2014 in Talent Acquisition

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