These days, HR professionals have a lot on their plates. Their roles in a company are much more strategic — responsible for recruiting, engaging, and retaining employees, as well as helping current employees develop skills. That’s especially important in times of low unemployment, when the competition for skilled talent is tough, says Barbara Mitchell, co-author of “The Big Book of HR.”
Then there’s the flood of regulation acronyms—FMLA, ACA, ADA—that HR departments need to keep up with. All the while, you’re still fielding the usual requests like: How many vacation hours do I have? Why was my paycheck less this week? How do I change my life insurance beneficiary? “Answering all these repeated tasks can be very time-consuming,” Mitchell says.
A 12-month look at atSpoke’s user data found that 49% of all HR requests are repetitive. Thus, freeing up HR teams to spend less time on these rote questions, and more on high-level tasks that require a human touch, can be very beneficial. Technology is helping accomplish that through automation and smart software.
Many companies use a combination help desk portal with a case management system to field the kind of HR requests that can be answered automatically. These systems can also point employees in the right direction for finding the information on their own. Slack is a popular collaboration tool that many HR teams use to answer some of those repetitive questions or store important documents.
That’s a good thing, considering that email isn’t a great tool for handling HR requests. There’s no good way to prioritize how urgent the request is (unless you count all caps and exclamation points) and it’s hard to track whether the request has been answered and by whom. A case management system gives tasks a priority and lets companies capture important data. They can see which requests they get most often, where they’re coming from, when they’re coming, and how long they take to resolve. This can hopefully help HR teams learn how to communicate this information to employees more effectively.
So are HR tickets used regularly? The answer is yes. In fact, mid-sized and large companies plan to increase their spending on help desk portals by 20%, according to Sierra-Cedar’s 2018-2019 HR Systems Survey. And while many companies piggyback on their IT or customer service help desk systems for HR requests, many more use standalone software that functions as a help desk/case management system. Others use human resource management systems (HRMS) that contain built-in help desk and case management functions.
“Help desks and [case management] systems are very useful for taking on these more tactical responsibilities,” Mitchell says.
Companies that focus on these self-service applications often see higher employee engagement. Companies also see increases in the number of people that each HR professional can support, which can lead to cost savings.
“The key here is to select what, if any, tasks HR wants to offload onto a help desk or to automate,” Mitchell says. “Smart companies strike the right balance between efficiency and not losing that human interaction with employees.”