Let us begin with a bigger picture before zooming into the topic of HR Helpdesk. As the number of employees in the company increased, it becomes necessary for the HR Department to review its own organization structure. For readers who are interested, Dave Ulrich and Joe Grochowski wrote a general article on the 4 organization design which the HR department may be organized, titled “Strategic HR Review: From Shared Services to Professional Services” (http://execed.bus.umich.edu).
There is also another interesting article “Shared Services: An Opportunity for Increased Productivity” written by Tim Beachy and so on (http://thriveproject.ca). With this review comes the need to look at ways the HR department can increase productivity and efficiency. A great way is through the use of HR related electronic systems.
HR related electronic systems include:
(a) HR Intranet
(b) HR self service
(c) HR system (This includes leave, performance appraisal, time clocking, learning and development management, HR records)
(d) HR online training system
(e) HR Helpdesk
(f) Employee feedback and suggestion
(g) Employee survey
The advantages of electronic systems are:
(a) The HR Department will be able to handle voluminous transactions more efficiently.
(b) The electronic system will enable tracking once the data is entered into the system.
(c) Electronic system may have automated messages, alerts and reminders.
(d) On-line forms help do away manual forms that requires storage space and which are clumsy to handle.
(e) HR Helpdesk provides a single point of contact.
(f) It reduces lost man hours by staff that previously visits the HR department.
(g) Staff can still obtain services while away from the office or located at site outside the office.
(h) It removes the sometimes emotionally charged face-to-face contact that could lead to inappropriate response.
(i) The time saved from in-person interactions can lead to time saved for used in obtaining feedback, communication and transformation work.
The strategy is:
(a) Train managers to perform their people management duties.
(b) Train managers and staff to use tools that are available to them.
There are some threshold numbers which the HR professional can use as a rule of thumb. These numbers helps in the following ways:
(a) Manual systems that have reached the thresholds are usually at the breaking point. These thresholds help the HR professional assess the company’s situation.
(b) Acts as prompters for taking actions well before the situation gets out of hand.
The point when the HR professional should start thinking about using an electronic system is when the company has 70 to 150 staff. The threshold is 250 to 350 staff.
HR Helpdesk service can be performed at 3 levels: (a) on-line (b) phone call or video call (c) in person support. It is not necessary to have all 3 options. The shift is to move as much as possible to online, in order to take advantage of automation.
HR Helpdesk services can be outsourced or manned internally. The factors to consider are:
(a) Employee population size that the HR Helpdesk is required to serve and some prediction of whether and how that population is going to grow. Outsourced HR Helpdesk services are usually for companies without a HR Department.
(b) Structure of the company – Conglomerate (Holding company with subsidies in different industries), Multi-nationals (Head office with many overseas offices in different countries, all in the same industry), Local (Single country business with single or multiple sites).
(c) Physical proximity and distribution of the employee.
(d) The need to go global and act local.
(e) Nature of services required, volume and complexity – Information, records, transactions, hands-on assistance, expert advice, transformation work.
(f) Structure of the HR Team.
(g) How the helpdesk is going to be manned – dedicated generalist (central contact point) or specialist (distributed contact point) or a hybrid (central contact point as tier 1 and escalating to specialist in tier 2 when necessary).
(h) Affordability (Company’s depth of pockets) and Number of HR personnel to Number of Employee ratio.
(i) Availability of reference source on HR policies, processes, procedures including forms.
(j) Availability and level of sophistication of HR systems and corporate intranet.
As with most commercial companies:
(a) The HR personnel to employee ratio is never ideal as HR remains a cost centre. Even if the HR Department is very large, the staff often gets overworked.
(b) Unless the company has deep pockets, most often Management is reluctant to spend money on any HR related electronic system including HRIS or buys the bare minimum (this usually is the payroll system) or it buys the system in phases, spread over a couple of years or even delay the purchase until the situation is inevitable, that is to continue to do without such systems while the total number of staff keeps on growing.
A possible option for HR Helpdesk is to use a free open source ticketing software. This is also called trouble ticket system or helpdesk software or helpdesk ticketing system. During implementation, attention should be paid to identify the requestor’s business unit and to determine how the enquiries are categorized and:
(a) It will affect how data are grouped for tracking and analysis purposes.
(b) It will make it easier to decide on to who the different cases should be directed for resolution, if that is the pre-defined work arrangement.
One way of grouping the online tickets is:
(a) Job Title & Reporting structure
(b) Job description (could be handled by a recruitment module)
(c) Reclassification (of grade)
(d) Referrals (could be handled by a recruitment module)
(e) Transfer (could be handled by a recruitment module)
(f) Update personal details (could be handled by self service module)
(h) Medical benefits
(i) Hospitalization benefits
(j) Other benefits
(l) Expat matters
(m) Company properties (could be handle by asset management software)
(p) Feedback & suggestion (could be covered by employee suggestion software)
(q) Exit (cover resignations & terminations)
(r) Appointment (set up appointment with HR Department)
The advantage of such a system is the shifting away of such requests away from email boxes and funneling them through a checkpoint.
One example of an organization using HR ticketing system is the Pennsylvania Office of Administration (USA)(www.portal.state.pa.us). Their HR/Payroll ticketing system is used for the HR Service Center’s operations staff, to request research on transactions processing functionality, or to request a system enhancement within the HR/payroll system. It is not used to request transactions.
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