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The Value (Not Cost) of HR Services

The Value (Not Cost) of HR Services

When I learn a new topic, I often need an analogy to help me see the new notion through the lens of something I already know. So, let’s talk HR service through the lens of taking your car to the mechanic.

Prospective customers often come to us looking for help defining the work they do in quantifiable measurements, and they want to use ServiceNow HR Service Delivery to do it. The basis for that work is an HR service. But if you ask HR to define a service, they struggle. Why is this?

When you take your car to the mechanic, you get an oil change, buy new tires, get new brakes, and on and on and on. Those are services a mechanic provides and they are easy to define. Why? Because they cost money — more than I care to admit. Services have a cost.

If you are a foodie like me, you might think of this in terms of a dining experience. When you walk into a restaurant, pick up a menu and order food, you know two things: How much that double cheeseburger is going to cost you, and someone will cook it and deliver it to your table. You will pay for the service of the restaurant providing you with a meal.

When there is no cost directly associated with an action, it’s hard to see it as a service. But services have value, too, and HR should consider this when defining exactly what it is they offer.

ServiceNow explains an HR service as the starting point for HR case creation and defines the entire HR process to request fulfillment.

When providing services to employees, two things come to mind: 1. answering questions, and 2. fulfilling requests.

“What is our parental leave policy?”

“Is MLK Jr.’s birthday a company holiday?”

“I’m doing my taxes. Where can I find my W-2 online?”

“I need to report misconduct by a coworker.”

“How do I start a performance improvement plan for someone who reports to me?”

All of those questions and so many more land squarely in the realm of HR Service Delivery. When HR answers questions or provides guidance to an employee, they provide a service.

Last summer, I worked with a customer whose business transports, stores and distributes refined petroleum products and crude oil based in Tulsa, Oklahoma who started tracking requests in a shared spreadsheet to get a sense for the types of requests and questions their employees have. Within two weeks, for a workforce of 1,700 employees, they recorded 600 requests — just requests, not who fulfilled the request, how long it took, or the satisfaction of the person who made the request.

What is HR’s cost of answering a question about parental leave? That is hard to quantify, but it is a service no less. While the cost isn’t evident, the value is enormous. Employees want to feel heard and they expect a personalized, curated experience like so many consumer applications provide. Think Amazon, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn–all of these provide an experience for their users based on their interests, purchase history, likes and personal information such as age, gender and even zip code.

The value of HR service delivery is about providing answers and fulfilling requests efficiently and satisfactorily so that your workers can get the information they need, get back to their day and focus on taking care of your customers.

When defining HR services, we need to stop thinking in terms of what can or cannot be quantified through an associated cost, and look at it through the lens of the value HR adds to the employee experience, even if it is a response to a simple request or question.

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