This is such a basic topic that nobody talks about it, not even the HR folks! Ask any line manager how easy it is for their team members to find answers when they have a query for the HR team. Employees often do not know who the right person is in the HR team to deal with their queries. Even if they know, it is difficult to reach the concerned HR person. Sometimes, they reach the person, but she is busy when the employee has reached her! One has to cross three obstacles to be able to discuss a query. Isn’t this a problem really?
Back to Basics
We know, the HR folks have to listen well, show empathy, gather facts before they decide, deal with employees respectfully, explain the decision transparently and so on. They are also expected to observe the pattern of queries coming up; reflect upon them in the background of queries they encounter in open house interactions and feedback from the line managers. Then they are expected to go to root cause of the queries, take not only corrective actions but also preventive actions in collaboration with various stakeholders. HR team must communicate the decisions, watch the impacts of the decisions and make changes in due course of time. Do the HR folks deliver consistently on these aspects?
Some organizations have impersonalised the process. They have a toll-free number or a common email or an e-platform where a query can be raised. Sometimes, there is a set of FAQs given to the employees so that they can find answers on their own for most of their questions. Some organizations have outsourced the process to a Shared Service Centre where SLAs are defined to handle employee queries with speed and efficiency.
Sounds good to you? Some love this while some cringe at it. The context of each organization is unique. If you have scientists working, you would put some of your best HR folks deal with their queries and at the same time, create multiple channels such as tech-enabled self-service, emails, phones, chat, call back option and so on. If you have a large number of employees largely on transactional activities, you would possibly set up a lot of automation for them to respond to their needs efficiently and ask their managers to play a role in HR. One size doesn’t fit all. You have to choose what works well for your context and is effective for you.
Are you Agile?
Given the context of instant gratification that we love, employees want quick answers to their queries. The HR helpdesk needs all the information at one place to be able to give the answers quickly. Employee queries range from leaves, holidays, taxes, reimbursements, salary components, deductions, needs of special documentation to issues related to career growth, nature of work, behaviour of supervisor, interaction with peers or sub-ordinates, workload or a point on ethical behaviour. We can see, it’s a wide range of subjects on which an employee could have a question. Some of these can be addressed by automated systems, FAQs or bots to provide quick answers. However, there are a whole range of other topics on which the HR person needs to listen, understand, empathise and resolve.
At times, organizations deliver poor experience to their employees because they do not have all the information at one place such as leaves, holidays, payroll record, employee record, history of the benefits availed and so on. Oftentimes, each of these topics are handled by different desks and hence, the HR helpdesk doesn’t have the access to all the information at one go. Hence, an employee cannot get quick answers and have to keep chasing the HR department for these.
In sum, the HR team or the Agency has to do the Basics right, ensure that they are Effective and Agile!
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