I once worked for organization where most employees exiting said their reason for leaving was because it was just too difficult to be an employee there. Wow! Too difficult to be an employee? As HR professionals, we hear concerns about managers, pay, or even leadership as reasons people leave. Those are big challenges most organizations face at one time or another, and they are not easy to solve. But when an employee says it’s too hard to be an employee, that should get your attention quickly.
An HR leader told me that making work life easier for their employees is vitally important. This leader works for a company that is in the business of saving lives every day. They want their employees focused on this critical mission rather than on who can answer their benefits question or what process they need to follow to be reimbursed for a course they’ve taken. And they’re not alone. All executives want their employees focused on their mission, whether it’s creating innovative products, building a sales pipeline, or servicing customers. Organizations hire employees to perform a role that is vital to a company’s growth and stability. Any obstacle that gets in the way of that mission should be removed. Yet, the challenges often remain because some people view change as difficult and too disruptive or we have bought into the belief that one system can solve all our HR technology needs. It’s also possible that no one is asking employees what they think or ignoring the signs of frustration until it’s too late.
The good news is that with the technology solutions available today, HR leaders can dramatically impact the employee service experience in a positive way. But you have to be willing to look at your employee service experience and your HR technology landscape in a new way. You have to be willing to imagine the art of the possible and be ready to disrupt the status quo. I have met with several HR execs over the past few years who cannot acknowledge the need to disrupt their HR service landscape. Instead they trust that the investments they’ve made in the past will pay off one day. HR has been a laggard department when it comes to innovation and change. The good news is that this doesn’t have to be your reality.
Your Employee Service Experience
First, ask the simple question, “Is it easy for employees to take care of their basic HR needs and be productive in their jobs?” Are you providing your employees with a service experience at work that resembles their service experiences outside of work? Employees bring expectations to work every day. If they use an app in their personal lives that makes it easy to get something done, that is the type of experience they expect at work. And while no two organizations are alike and employee expectations vary, it is safe to say that most organizations face the same challenge—the majority of employees have high expectations for their employee service experience. Consider the following when assessing your current state:
- Do you provide a one-stop shop for all HR questions and requests?
- Are employees able to view their submitted requests at any time?
- Are you keeping employees notified on the status of their requests in the manner they most desire (via text for example)?
- Can employees easily find information pertinent to them and quickly submit requests to HR?
- Can employees do all of this from their mobile device?
Your HR Technology Landscape
In most organizations, HR teams spend more than 30 percent of their days repeating the same information to employees over and over again and doing other repetitive work. Unfortunately, the information is not always consistent and correct. Often, response times are long leading to frustrated employees. In addition to preventing HR teams from focusing on more strategic initiatives, old school work environments that rely heavily on email communication and lack automated workflows are encouraging attrition as employees make the decision to move on to other organizations where they feel more valued… where it’s easier to be an employee. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How much time is your HR team spending on the daily administrative minutia of answering the same questions over and over again whether by email, phone or in person?
- Are they still manually updating systems and processing paperwork?
- Are employee needs being anticipated? Are their expectations being managed?
Are the HR systems in use at your company fit for purpose or are there gaps that prevent you from providing a service experience to your employees that will make them feel valued and prepared to fully contribute to your mission? Most companies have invested in technology designed to manage employee information and transactions. The missing link is often the “interaction” component. Consider the following questions:
- How is email used in your company to manage employee questions and requests?
- Can you easily determine how many and what type of requests are coming into HR or your employee information needs?
- Do employees have access 24/7 to a knowledge base that will inform their decisions about benefits?
- Can your HR team easily and independently make modifications to workflows and forms without having to engage with IT or professional services?
There are great HCM solutions available in the market today though I have yet to see one that alone can truly accomplish all of these. Email continues to be used in most organizations to manage interactions with employees even though it provides no visibility into request status and no structure or metrics for HR. The good news is that service management technology exists that integrates with existing HR technology to fill in these gaps allowing organizations to streamline and modernize the entire employee life cycle.
If employees are not giving you direct feedback as they leave your company, they may be posting their thoughts on sites such as Glassdoor or otherwise letting potential applicants know about their experience. Don’t wait for disaster to strike or be overwhelmed by the challenges in front of you. All great journeys begin with one bold step. The first step in your transformation journey could be a matter of adding structure and visibility to your employee request and information processes. Seize the opportunity to make a difference—a difference that will have a long term impact on the viability of your company. Invest in your employee service experience and you may reap the rewards of higher employee engagement and longer employee tenure. At the very least, you will have far fewer complaints about the ease of working in your organization.